By CHONG CHIENG JEN
COMMENT: Abang Johari’s announcement Tuesday on the so-called “Sarawak’s regulatory power over oil and gas” is much ado about nothing, and a big disappointment.
Despite his announcement and the so-called devolution of power, Sarawak’s entitlement to the oil and gas royalties remains a meagre 5%, the remaining revenues generated from the exploration of oil and gas remains with the Federal Government and Petronas.
Furthermore, by virtue of the provisions of the Petroleum Development Act (PDA) 1974, the ultimate ownership and control of the oil and gas industry in Sarawak remains with Petronas and the Prime Minister.
The following Sections of the PDA which vest the exclusive rights and ownership of oil and gas resources in Petronas are:
2. (1) The entire ownership in, and the exclusive rights, powers, liberties and privileges of exploring, exploiting, winning and obtaining petroleum whether onshore or offshore of Malaysia shall be vested in a Corporation to be incorporated under the Companies Act 1965 or under the law relating to incorporation of companies.
6. (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other written law, no business of processing or refining of petroleum or manufacturing of petro-chemical products from petroleum, may be carried out by any person other than PETRONAS unless there is in respect of any such business a permission given by the Prime Minister.”
That corporation is PETRONAS. Effectively, without amendment to the provision of PDA, PETROS is at most a contractor of PETRONAS, not at par in status to PETRONAS.
Therefore, unless the provisions of PDA are amended or repealed, whatever laws or regulations passed by the Sarawak State Assembly or set by the State Government will become redundant and ineffective laws.
Furthermore, with the existence of another law, the Territorial Sea Act, 2012, Sarawak only has rights covering the area within three nautical miles, anything beyond the said three nautical mile belongs to the Federal Government.
Those in the oil and gas industry will know that there is almost nothing left to explore in the three-nautical mile area.
In short, Abang Jo’s announcement is just another one of his “hot air” stunts trying to fool Sarawakians into believing that there is “devolution of power” while the main control and benefits of oil and gas remains under the control of the Federal Government.
The BN has taken Sarawakians for a ride for the past 55 years, and with this perceived devolution of power, it intends to continue taking Sarawakians for another ride for another 50 years.
We regret that in this era of information, the BN Government still continues resorting to its old tactic of “fooling the people” with empty promises to try to win elections.
This is contrary to the New Deal offered by the Pakatan Harapan which promises an outright 20% oil and gas royalties or value equivalent if PH captures Putrajaya in the 14th General Elections.
Therefore, if Sarawakians wish to enjoy the true benefits of the oil and gas extracted from the soil and sea of Sarawak, the only way is to change the Federal Government.
• Chong Chieng Jen is Sarawak Pakatan Harapan Chairman and MP Bandar Kuching/ADUN Kota Sentosa