Sarawak to discuss oil royalty review with federal government in private, says Taib
by Geryl Ogilvy Ruekeith. Posted on August 20, 2012, Monday
KUCHING: Any discussion for bigger oil royalty to the state is better off held in private with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, opined Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.
Taib who was met at his Hari Raya open house at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here on Sunday, told reporters that the state has always maintained a strong relationship with the Federal Government by discussing directly its need and requests.
He believed that it was unnecessary to make public his opinion in regards to the increasing of oil royalty issue for Sabah – Sarawak if a direct talk with the Prime Minister can yield better results.
“I do not want to opine over issues that is better be discussed with the Prime Minister. That has always been the way of the state’s dealings in its relationship with the Federal Government,” said Taib who is also Finance Minister and Resource Planning and Environment Minister.
He was responding to the press when asked for his opinion that several Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders and elected representatives have recently made public their opinion that it is high time the State and Federal Government hold talks on increasing the oil royalty for the two East Malaysian states.
In regards to this issue, Taib stated that he knew a certain political leader has been playing the issue publicly of late. However, he highlighted that these person has always been aware of the oil royalty situation for Sabah – Sarawak for a long time and that he (the certain political leader) was among those who did not agree with the request to raise the oil royalty then.
“I know that somebody has talk about it but that somebody knew what is the state’s position before and he himself does not agree with it. Now he has gone oppositely (on the matter) from the opposite and I don’t take him seriously,” he continued.
Despite Taib not naming who the said person was, this could be interpreted that the said political figure has been playing with the oil royalty issue to gain votes and popularity in Sabah – Sarawak after he changed his political affiliation.
Meanwhile, talks for bigger royalty for the state was raised as far as December 1999 during the State Legislative Assembly sitting.
Former Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan in his winding up speech, said the state would ask for better oil and gas royalty to enable it to accelerate development. He added that Sarawak was relatively an under-developed state and it had large infrastructure needs.
He also mentioned that the state needed lots more financial resources to raise its economic status to be on par with other states in the country.
Reported in The Borneo Post recently, state leaders from both side of the political divide strike a common ground in calling for the federal government to review the five per cent oil royalty paid to the state in the past four decades.
Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing suggested the proposed special committee to be set up by the Federal Government to reveiw the oil royalties for the two East Malaysian states should include Sabah – Sarawak considering that the both states are the main contributors to the national petroleum production.
Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah opined that since petroleum production has increased due to technology advancement, revenue would also increase. Therefore it was logical that the quantum should be reviewed.
This sentiment was also echoed by Assistant Minister of Public Health Dr Jerip Susil who said that the government should be aware that oil and gas exploration and prospecting could be very costly.
Najib announced recently the government’s decision to set up a special committee to study the oil royalties for Sabah – Sarawak and that the committee was given six-months to study on the matter before making recommendations to the Federal Government.