Thursday, March 21

Swak govt should not use resources as a bargaining chip


Lina Soo

By Churchill Edward

KUCHING: State Reform Party Sarawak (STAR) Lina Soo voiced her agreement with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s stance to not to accept Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad’s offer of 20 per cent profit on petroleum resources extracted from Sarawak.

This is because accepting it would mean acknowledging the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) and Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA) as enforceable on Sarawak territory, she reasoned.

At the same time,  Soo expressed disappointment over Abang Johari’s request  to seek clarification from the Federal Government on the 20 per cent oil royalty, as per reported in a local media.

“Why is there the need to seek clarification and bargain with our own resources? It is not a matter for argument whether it is a percentage of production or of profit,” Soo said.

She said that the Chief Minister cannot do a ‘U-turn’ now to take the offer of 20 per cent profit of what is supposedly termed as “oil royalty”.

“To accept 20 per cent royalty or 20 per cent profit is self-defeating in itself as it gives validity to PDA’s enforceability within Sarawak territory. We all know that PDA is a Federal Act which was never adopted by Sarawak DUN, and as such is unconstitutional and unenforceable in Sarawak,” she added.

The crux of the matter is that the Sarawak government should not use our resources as a bargaining chip with the Federal government, which compromises Sarawak rights and territorial sovereignty.

Soo reminded people that Sarawak government has of July 1, 2018 enforced the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 (OMO) to take back 100 per cent of its petroleum and regulatory rights within its territory.

“To accept any royalty payment in whatever form or percentage would be tantamount to reversing the Sarawak Government’s stand in enforcing OMO, and to accept that is to destroy Sarawak’s 100 per cent ownership status,” she claimed.

Soo said she understands that Sarawak produces the most expensive oil in the world, which comes from the West Lutong oilfield in Sarawak.

She then cited the disclosure by the CEO of Petronas in a recent report that Sarawak produces 850,000 BOE/D (barrel of oil equivalent oil per day) and at USD70.00 a barrel, this amounts to USD56 million per day which adds up to  USD20.4 billion a year.

“Imagine if this is shared amongst Sarawak’s population of 2.8 million. Sarawak will be another Norway or Qatar in terms of income per capita.”

Soo proposed that Sarawak government offer Petronas a percentage to pay on every barrel of oil extracted out of Sarawak territory, as it is only proper that the Landowner makes the offer to the Excavator, and not the other way round.

“What lies within Sarawak territory and its waters belongs rightfully to Sarawak, as has been pre-Malaysia. We want nothing more and nothing less,” Soo said.