Who owns the goose that lays the golden eggs?

Flag of Sarawak. (Matthew A. Lockhart [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Commentary

FOR obvious reasons, there is now an outcry as to who actually owns the ‘goose that lays the golden eggs’ — Sarawak’s oil and gas resources.

Before the enactment of the Petroleum Development Act (PDA) 1974, which has given Petronas the exclusive right over the oil and gas development in Sarawak (and Sabah), everything from minerals and resources to immigration were the exclusive rights of Sarawak.

Sarawak, as one of the three territories that formed the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, was in fact an independent country before the MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963) was signed, having rightfully gained its independence from its colonial master, Great Britain, on July 22, 1963.

Now, 44 years after the law was enacted, Sarawak, on June 12, will know its fate whether it still owns the rights over oil and gas found in its territory based on its own laws that are binding under the MA63, or will it be the exclusive right of Petronas? That being the case, it will be for the wisdom of the Federal Court to decide.

In the meantime, for Sarawakians, this is not the right time for the so-called ‘champions’ to point fingers at the Sarawak government “for not doing enough or being too late” because by doing that is akin to betraying all Sarawakians, including their own supporters.

This should be the time for everyone, especially the politicians, regardless of their political affiliations, to merge their minds together to get the best results that we all must fight for, even after the Apex Court’s judgement for Fair Land Sarawak.

According to a legal expert who preferred to remain anonymous, it is now just a waiting game for Sarawak before judgment is made on June 12.

“It will be a very interesting hearing as it will finally decide whether Sarawak, which is a partner in the MA63 but was later subjected to the PDA 1974 that was duly passed in Parliament, still owns the rights over oil and gas found in its territory,” the source told DayakDaily here today.

Revisiting the PDA 1974, ironically, it was tabled in Parliament by then Federal Minister of Land and Mines Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, the current Sarawak Governor. And the man who drafted the Act was none other than Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who was then the chairman of Perbadanan Nasional Berhad (Pernas) and was subsequently appointed as Petronas’ first chairman. The new Act was agreed upon by then Chief Minister, the late Tun Abdul Rahman Ya’kub, and then Prime Minister, the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein — the late father of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

On behalf of the Sarawak Government, Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali commented that the case would have monumental implications and hoped that all critics of the Sarawak government would rally behind the government to ensure its rights remained intact.

“For Petronas’ suit against us, we will have to wait for the Federal Court’s decision on June 12. If no leave is granted to Petronas, there is no case lah. But for us, after this thing (judgement), we should first try to declare via the Federal Court that the Territorial Sea Act 2012 is illegal because it is against the constitution — altering state boundary without consent from us,” she told DayakDaily.

She pointed out that under the Sarawak’s Land Code, any mineral or anything found under its waters are Sarawak’s property.

“By virtue of all that, the PDA is questionable and must be reviewed to give Sarawak its rights back because oil is extracted from our land.

“(For) the rest of the matter regarding MA63, we can bring the matter to the International Court, which is up to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and with the consent of the Sarawak government,” she asserted. — DayakDaily