‘We won a small battle’ against Petronas — Abdullah Saidol

Abdullah Saidol

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KUCHING, Jan 23: The Sarawak government has “won a small battle” in its quest to claim the sales and services tax from Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas).

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Corporate Affairs and Sarawak Public Communications Unit), Abdullah Saidol, believed the state government can now breathe a sigh of relief as it has cleared the first hurdle in claiming the 5 per cent sales tax from the national oil corporation.

Nonetheless, he believed that there is still a long journey to go before the state government is able to get the money from Petronas.

He urged Sarawakians to look at the bigger picture of the case as a fight for Sarawakian rights and interests.

“What happened this morning (Jan 23) is just winning of a small battle in the big efforts by the state government to defend our rights and interests, especially with regards to the tax suit against Petronas.

“From the way Petronas acted, it seems that they are trying to make it difficult but we know our case is on the right track and of course our legal team are well-prepared.

“We want Sarawakians to see this case not just merely a summon by the state government to Petronas, but they must look at it as an effort by the Sarawak people to defend our rights and interests which is being challenged for the first time.

“It is very important for everybody to follow and update themselves on what is happening to this case,” he told reporters after receiving grants from Unifor (Unit for Other Religions) for the building of houses of worship in his constituency here today.

Abdullah, who is Semop assemblyman believed that if the case is put on trial, it might take a long time before there is an outcome.

He also believed that a lot of issues will be brought up by both parties either by Petronas or the state government during the trial such as the Petroleum Development Act (PDA) 1974 and other Acts which will be questioned.

He stressed that the state government will try its best to defend the court case so that the future generations will know the seriousness and commitment by its leaders in defending the state’s rights.

“We don’t want in the next 20 or 30 years from now, the next generation to question the efforts and seriousness shown by our current leaders especially from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) in defending our rights and interests.

“That is why we show our seriousness in the court case and I hope the Sarawak people will be with us notwithstanding your political belief,” he said, while adding that the court case is of public interest and it not a political battle.

Touching on the grant presentation, Abdullah said the state government do not want to encroach into other issues that could affect racial harmony in Sarawak.

He supported the comment made by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, who mentioned that Sarawak is the sole state in Malaysia which has a unit for other religions (Unifor).

He noted that Unifor was formed to strengthen the unity among the various races in Sarawak.

Abdullah said there should be no bigotry, misunderstanding or racism when it comes to the fight of Sarawakians’ rights and interests.

Meanwhile, the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak today dismissed the recusal application by Petronas with cost.

Judicial Commissioner (JC) Christopher Chin noted that there were not likely to be perceived by the informed casual observer that he and the team were suffering from any perceived notion of being biased because of their appointments after weighing the eloquent arguments of counsel and considered whether there is a real danger of perceived bias.

He concluded that there was no real possibility of perceived bias by a fair-minded observer having knowledge of the facts.

Therefore, he dismissed the defendant’s which is Petronas’s application to recuse him under Enclosure 18.

Chin also awarded costs to the plaintiffs the sum of RM50,000. — DayakDaily