Tuesday, August 20

Time to reverse the flow of oil revenue, says SAS

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Peter (front) uses a loud hailer to lead the group in a chant during their peaceful gathering at the Kuching Waterfront.

KUCHING: Solidariti Anak Sarawak (SAS) founder Peter John Jaban said it is time for Sarawak to consider keeping 95 per cent of oil revenue for the state and give the balance to the federal government.

“It is time to reverse the flow – with Sarawak giving the federal government five per cent of the oil revenue and keeping the remaining 95 per cent for the people of Sarawak,” he said.

Speaking to reporters after a gathering at the Kuching Waterfront yesterday to show support for the Sarawak government, Peter John said that revenue from oil sits at the heart of the autonomy issue which has been the principal driver of policy and feeling in Sarawak over the past few years.

“The question is simple – whether the people of the Borneo states should receive the benefits of the resources that have been part of their territory since long before Malaysia was even conceived.

“For over five decades, Sarawak and Sabah have seen precious little benefit from the oil revenues that form such a massive part of Malaysia’s budget, landing them as the two poorest states in the federation.”

The various banners and placards supporting Sarawak rights were briefly on display at the Kuching Waterfront yesterday. — Photos by Chimon Upon.

Peter John added that just a few short weeks after the election of a new, supposedly fairer government that campaigned on a promise of an increase to 20 per cent of oil revenue, Petronas is now seeking a judgement that will potentially strip Sarawak and Sabah of their rights entirely and in perpetuity.

“Whatever new hope is promised in Malaysia, it does not seem to extend to the Borneo states. This goes beyond political positioning. This will decide the future of the position of the Borneo states in Malaysia for the years to come and all Sarawakians and Sabahans must oppose it.”

He said that matter need not go to court because Petroleum Development Act (PDA) 1974 is not applicable to Sarawak – only to Terengganu and some Peninsular Malaysian states.

“Secondly, PDA 1974 is also not valid because the Act was never passed in the Sarawak DUN (State Legislative Assembly). The Sarawak government’s responsibility is to protect her people, so they must be very careful with any decision. Otherwise we the ‘rakyat’ will sue the Sarawak government for negligence.”

At the same time, Peter advised all Sarawakians to lodge a police report requesting the authorities to investigate the legality of PDA 1974.

Formerly known as Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S), the freshly-rebranded SAS went through a change of name after S4S had been weakened following a split when groups following different political ideologies could not see eye to eye.

On the renamed SAS, Peter said he would prefer the group to remain apolitical.

“SAS will be an umbrella body for several smaller Sarawak rights movements.”

The roughly 300 SAS supporters who turned up at the Kuching Waterfront yesterday conducted their show of solidarity in a peaceful manner, under the watch of police personnel.

At the end of the gathering, the group cleaned up the site where they had assembled prior to dispersing.