Wednesday, May 27

Legal action threat over oil, gas rights

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KOTA KINABALU: State Reform Party (Star) Sabah is giving the State Government six weeks to restore ownership rights of Sabah’s oil and gas resources, or the people would proceed with legal action, according to its chairman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.

He told a press conference at TNGC Beverly Hills yesterday that Petronas missed the point when it acted as if it was the sole custodian of Malaysia’s oil and gas.

He was responding to the statement by Petronas that it could not afford to increase the cash payment to 20 per cent to the oil-producing states as proposed by Pakatan Rakyat.

“The Federal Government is also irresponsible in using Petronas as its mouthpiece to reject the claims of the oil-producing states for increases in the cash payment from the current five per cent.

“The Federal Government and Petronas have totally ignored the fact that oil and gas resources belong to Kelantan, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak, in the first place. It did not belong to the Federal Government and definitely not Petronas,” Jeffrey asserted.

He said from Sabah and Sarawak’s point of view, it should not be trapped into discussing the increase of the five per cent cash payment. In fact, he said, many of Sabah’s leaders were still confused with the five per cent cash payment.

“It is not royalty as in the 1976 Oil Agreement; the State Government was pressured to reject or waive its right to collect royalty.

The real issue now, said Jeffrey, was not the amount of cash payment but the validity of Tun Abdul Razak’s Vesting Order to Petronas as the oil and gas belonged to Sabah and Sarawak.

“Such vesting to Petronas has to be unconstitutional and invalid,” he said.

“Therefore, Petronas and the Federal Government, and Pakatan Rakyat as the alternative front, and their leaders should be talking, firstly about restoring and returning the ownership of the oil rights to Sabah and Sarawak and then, secondly re-negotiate for the state to contribute a portion of the oil revenue to the Federal Government or Petronas.

He said Star Sabah would be handing over a memorandum to the Chief Minister’s office by Monday or Tuesday, calling for restoration of the ownership of the oil and gas, otherwise the people of Sabah, with the support of Star Sabah, would bring the issue to court, including the issue of Blocks L and M.