Abdullah: Sarawak PH’s offer best described as absurd


Abdullah Saidol

KUCHING: Sarawak Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) offer to the Sarawak government two weeks before the May 9 election on oil royalty and tax collection, is described as absurd.

Assistant Minister of Corporate Affairs Abdullah Saidol said the Sarawak PH had no clue of what they were offering.

He said this to suggest that Sarawak PH has reneged on some of their election manifestos and promises.

“Yes it’s true that PH Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen handed the Sarawak government an offer on April 26, two weeks before the 14th general election. Amongst others, Sarawak PH offered to deliver two promises to Sarawak government if PH took over the federal government; 20 per cent oil royalty and 50 per cent of all tax revenues collected from Sarawak.

“If the Sarawak government accepted the deal, according to Chong, the Sarawak government  must take up the responsibility and financial burden on the administration of all matters related to health and education. I don’t think Chong had a clue of what’s he was offering. It’s absolutely absurd.

“Why did the Sarawak government refuse to entertain Sarawak PH’s so-called New Deal Agreement? First, what is the locus standi of Chong or Sarawak PH? He is dealing with a legitimate elected government of the day. Chong and Sarawak PH have no legal standing to commit an obligation for and on behalf of the federal government then,” Abdullah said through a press statement yesterday.

He added that Chong should have been aware that health and education are the obligations of the federal government as stipulated in Items 13 and 14 under 9th Schedule, Federal List of the Federal Constitution.

“Is Chong or Sarawak PH capable of amending the Federal Constitution?” he asked.

Abdullah said now that PH has taken over the federal administration, he suggested that Chong must first fulfil his promise to table a motion in parliament to amend the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA74), which he announced and was reported by local papers on March 11, 2018.

“According to Chong, this ‘small amendment to Section 2(1) of PDA will enable Sarawak to reclaim the ownership of its oil and gas found in Sarawak.

“If Chong or any of Sarawak PH MPs is not capable of doing it, perhaps any of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs will take up the initiative but make sure Sarawak PH MPs support the motion,” Abdullah said.

Abdullah also reminded Chong and Sarawak PH of their own manifesto or promises pledged before the GE14. There are seven promises described as ‘7 Guarantees for Sarawak Within 1 Year’.

On top of the list is ‘20 per cent royalty – 10 per cent of the revenue will be declared Petro Cash Dividends for Sarawakians.”

Their offer was initially vague but now all Sarawakians are shocked by the announcement made by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad that the oil royalty would derive from Petronas’ profit.

“What all Sarawakians expect is that the 20 per cent oil and gas royalty should  derive from production and not profit. There is a huge financial implication and difference between monies derived from production, revenues and profit.

“Does Chong know that royalty derived from profit may be less than the figure quoted by himself, ie, RM8 billion. Therefore, all Sarawakian should be skeptical about any flowery promises made by Chong or by Sarawak PH. This is especially so when Dr  Mahathir had made an astonishing statement that a manifesto is not a ‘holy book’ that must be fulfilled,” he said.

“Last but not least, Chong also announced about giving back to Sarawakians 50 per cent tax collected from Sarawak. When there was GST, more or less RM40 billion was collected by the previous federal government. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had announced that we are going back to SST with percentage more than GST six per cent. He also announced that while revenue from SST would be less the prices of goods would be cheaper. Is that true and happening now?” he asked.

Chong, as Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, should  explain truthfully and not just talking about the price of items like shuttlecocks, he said.

“If SST results in less tax revenue, how much 50 per cent tax that he (Chong) can return to Sarawak?

“For all you know, Sarawakians may get none because the Finance Minister had said that the federal government needed money to pay the ‘National Debts’. That is why PH federal government embarked on the donation drive,” said Abdullah, referring to Tabung Harapan.

“Has Chong ever anticipated that before making all sorts of dubious promises? To this day, Sarawak PH, especially their MPs, has made no significant or believable comment about the royalty issue as mentioned by the prime minister. Instead, they go around the bush making all sorts of silly political statement to confuse Sarawakians,” he added.