KUCHING: The Year of the Dog should inspire all Sarawakians to be a good watchdog in guarding our autonomous rights and power even more zealously, said Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How.
See, who is state PKR vice chairman, said the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has made a good start by citing Schedule 9, List I Federal List Item 8(j) in the Federal Constitution to assert Sarawak’s sovereign rights to the issuance of permits and licences for prospecting of mines, mining leases for the development of mineral resources and state categorically that all companies, including Petronas, need to comply with our Ordinances in carrying out their petroleum development activities.
“I am heartened by his statement and if I recall correctly, he is the first Sarawak chief minister to raise this crucial constitutional provision as one of the underpinning foundation to assert our autonomous rights and power.
“On this count, we should rally behind our “top watchdog” in the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly and Malaysian Parliament to proclaim and postulate this constitutional rights,” he said in a press conference here today.
See, however, warned that the task would be an onerous one, as he said that the federal government had laid the obstacles 50 years ago and has been piling on the impediment since.
“The MA63 was a brilliant piece of work to protect the rights and powers of Sarawak as an autonomous State. For the formation of Malaysia, the constitutional safeguards such as subjecting all matters relating to development of mineral resources which is found in Schedule 9 List I Federal List Item 8(j) to List II State List Item 2 which specified that all matters relating to ‘land’ are under the exclusive jurisdiction and sovereignty of the State.”
In noting that the Emergency Order proclaimed in 1969 was the first impediment to curtail our sovereign rights to the valuable resources, See said under the same legal regime, the Petroleum Development Act was enacted and Petronas was incorporated to be vested with all rights over our petroleum resources.
“The lifting of the Emergency Order in November 2011 should have the effect to restore our sovereign rights to the valuable resources including petroleum, but the federal government under the leadership of the present Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was quick to push through the Territorial Sea Act in 2012 to curtail Sarawak’s sovereign rights to her territorial boundary and thereby maintaining the state of affairs whereby development of mineral resources remains substantially under the federal administration.
“The Territorial Sea Act in 2012 which had contravened our constitutional provision in its enactment must not be allowed to stand as it is. Our CM must therefore vigilantly follow up with the reference that was made to the federal government by his predecessor Tok Nan (the late Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem), and insist on the restoration of Sarawak’s sovereign rights and control to our territorial boundary which encompasses the foreshore and seabed to the extent of our continental shelf in accordance with the Sarawak (Alternation of Boundaries) Order in Council 1954.”
As it is now, See said even if Sarawak is given full control over the issuance of permits and licences for the prospecting of mines, mining leases for the development of mineral resources, “our rights are constrained to those areas found onshore and up to three nautical miles off our shores”.
“This is not effectual to the protection and restoration of Sarawak’s rights and sovereign control for our mineral resources and their development. Even in the case of petroleum resources, the bulk of our oil and gas potentials and mines are located outside the three nautical miles limit.
“To restore Sarawak’s full rights in territorial boundary will enable us to have control of all mineral resources and their development to the extent of 200 nautical miles and that may be extended to 300 nautical miles as it was in the case of the United States of America and several other countries. That is what we should be aiming for, to ensure Sarawak’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”