KUCHING: The legal battle to determine who has regulatory control of the upstream activities of exploring, prospecting and mining of oil and gas in Sarawak begins at the Federal Court in Putrajaya tomorrow.
There is strong public interest in this case, with a headline in a national daily saying that Malaysia’s oil future hinges on the legal battle between Petronas and the Sarawak government.
A legal team from the Sarawak State Attorney-General’s Chambers comprising State Attorney-General (SAG) Datuk Talat Mahmood Abdul Rashid, State Legal Counsel Dato Sri JC Fong, deputy SAG Saferi Ali, and legal officer Mohd Adzrul Azlan, will represent the Sarawak government.
A source from the SAG Chambers confirmed two applications have been filed by national petroleum corporation Petronas. The source added that the SAG team spent the whole of last week preparing for the hearing, adding the team is fully able and committed to defend the rights of Sarawak in this legal battle with Petronas.
The first is for the Federal Court to determine whether Petronas’ chief executive officer has exclusive control of the upstream activities and whether Petronas is bound by the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 of Sarawak to have the mining leases and licences issued by the Sarawak authorities to carry out its upstream activity.
The second application by Petronas is to preserve the status quo, meaning the enforcement by the Oil Mining Ordinance in July, 2018 is to be stayed or suspended until the disputes between Petronas and Sarawak are settled by the Court.
Petronas, however, does not dispute that the Sarawak government has full regulatory control over the downstream gas distribution systems in Sarawak.
The Sarawak government opposes both applications.
The source further confirmed that all affidavits and written submissions for the hearing of the case had been filed with the Federal Court last Friday.
Petronas will be represented by a senior lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar from the Malayan Bar and assisted by Khoo Suk Chyi.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said that the federal government is leaving the dispute between Petronas and the Sarawak government for the Court to decide.