PDA, TSA not relevant in Sarawak – Abang Johari

Rintos Mail

Abang Johari gestures during a press conference today. – Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) and the Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA) are not relevant in Sarawak.

He said both were federal laws and for any federal law to be implemented in Sarawak, the Sarawak state legislative assembly (DUN) has to endorse it.

However, he noted that the state DUN had not endorsed both laws – the PDA and TSA – and therefore they could not be implemented or supersede the state laws.

“Now, quote me properly; any law that is ultra vires the constitution under article 4 of the Federal Constitution is void,” he told a press conference after the launching the coastal road seminar here today.

Abang Johari said this when asked to clarify whether it is possible for Sarawak to take charge of prospecting, mining and developing its petroleum resources when both the PDA and TSA were still implemented.

When asked if Sarawak would repeal or amend the PDA and TSA, he said: “You ask the federal government.”

Speaking at the launch of Petros recently, the Chief Minister said by July this year, the State would assume full regulatory authority over the upstream and downstream aspects of the oil and gas industry in Sarawak.

He said all persons and companies involved in the oil and gas industries in Sarawak must henceforth, have the necessary licences, permits, leases and approvals required under either the Oil Mining Ordinance or the Gas Distribution Ordinance.

“In other words, they are required to regularise their operations and activities to comply with all State laws including those relating to the use and occupation of land.

“The enforcement of our State laws will not jeopardise the interests or investments of Petronas and other companies already involved in the Oil and Gas industry in Sarawak, whether upstream or downstream, but, their business and operational activities must be aligned with our laws and regulations,” he said.

He stressed that before Malaysia Day (16 September, 1963), Sarawak already owned all the petroleum resources both onshore and offshore, in the Continental Shelf, and have complete control over the grant of prospecting, exploration and mining rights within the boundaries of Sarawak which by virtue of Article 2 of Federal Constitution cannot be altered without the approval of the Sarawak to be expressed by a law passed by the State Legislature.

He said on Malaysia Day, the State has the constitutional rights to issue prospecting licences, mining leases under Item 2(c) of the State List in Ninth Schedule of Federal Constitution which provides that “Land, including permits and licences for prospecting for mines; mining leases and certificates” are under the legislative authority of the State and therefore, by virtue of Article 80 within the executive authority of the State Government of Sarawak”.

He noted that the Federal Government’s right under Item 8(j) of Federal List in Ninth Schedule is subject to Item 2(c) of State List.

“This means the Federal Government’s authority on oil and oilfields and the development of mineral resources, is subject to the State’s rights to grant mining rights for oil and natural gas within Sarawak.

“All laws passed by Parliament must not be inconsistent with Federal Constitution: Article 4 declares that the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the Federation,” he said.

Abang Johari said Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance was never repealed by any emergency laws promulgated when the 1969 Proclamation of Emergency was in force.

He said the 1969 Proclamation of Emergency was annulled in 2011 and thus, Sarawak is constitutionally entitled to enforce the Oil Mining Ordinance and assert our constitutional authority over the rights to mine oil and gas in Sarawak.