Tuesday, November 29

Laying claim on oil and gas


Abang Johari speaks at the official launching of the Zamalah Wartawan Malaysia yesterday. — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: Sarawak is merely exercising its rights over oil and gas found in the state’s waters and shores.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg says in this context, Sarawak is not making any demands over the matter as it involves what rightfully belongs to the state.

“It is just a matter of rights. It is not demanding. If it is your house, and you want your house to be fenced up, that is what you want.

“That is not amounting to ‘demand’. That is just (our) right. Rights can be negotiated,” he told reporters after officiating at Zamalah Wartawan Malaysia organised by Malaysian Press Institute (MPI) here yesterday.

He said this when asked to comment on Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement that he hoped the Sarawak government would not be ‘too demanding’ with regards to oil royalty.

Sarawak has asked for the oil royalty of five per cent from the federal government be increased to 20 per cent as part of the state’s special rights enshrined under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Abang Johari also said he was not aware that the prime minister had rejected the Sarawak government’s offer of RM1 billion to the federal government.

He said he has not heard of any rejection from Dr Mahathir, saying: “If there is (a rejection of the offer), surely there is a letter; but there is no letter.”

The chief minister acknowledged that the state had borrowed money from the federal government as a loan, and that the repayment is made based on a schedule.

“There is a schedule for us to pay back the loan. The loan is just like you loan money from the bank to own a car. As far as Sarawak is concerned, there is no default in payment. All our payments are on time,” he said, adding however that he was unsure of the exact loan amount, but would find out.

The Sarawak government had offered RM1 billion as a loan to the federal government for the latter to rebuild dilapidated schools in the state.

However, the federal government reportedly rejected the offer.