KUCHING: Sarawak’s own leaders are actually the ones who directly and indirectly eroded Sarawak’s rights of its oil and gas since 1974, not Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, says Democratic Action Party Socialist Youth (Dapsy) Sarawak publicity secretary Abdul Aziz Isa.
He said he was staggered upon reading a defamatory statement made by Assistant Minister of Native Land Development and Tarat assemblyman Datuk Roland Sagah who had accused Dr Mahathir of eroding Sarawak’s rights during his first tenure as prime minister, in a local-based news portal.
“Sagah accused Dr Mahathir for being the person behind the erosion of Sarawak’s rights via the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA 1974) and Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA 2012).
“As former deputy speaker of the State Legislative Assembly and now an assistant minister, and one who graduated with a law degree, I would humbly like to remind him to be mindful when making statement against Dr Mahathir, who was not in the picture when both PDA 1974 and TSA 2012 were passed in Parliament,” Abdul Aziz told a press conference at DAP headquarters here yesterday.
Sagah was quoted by the news portal as saying ‘our rights have been disturbed more without our knowledge or approval a long time ago, so wasn’t this the work of Dr Mahathir?”
Abdul Aziz, who is special assistant to Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs Chong Chieng Jen, mentioned several facts to prove that Sagah had made a defamatory statement against Dr Mahathir.
First, he said Dr Mahathir served as prime minister from July 16, 1981 until October 31, 2003. When PDA 1974 was passed by Parliament and received the Royal assent on July 30, 1974 before being gazetted as law on August 22, 1974, he (Dr M) was only a Senator. The prime minister then was the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.
“Secondly, when TSA 2012 was passed by Parliament and received the Royal assent on June 18, 2012 before being gazetted as law on June 22, 2012, Dr Mahathir had already retired from politics for nine years. Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was then the prime minister.
“When TSA 2012 was passed in Parliament, Dr Mahathir was only leading a non-governmental organisation called Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF) as its president.”
Abdul Aziz hoped these two historical facts would eventually restore Sagah’s memory.
He said by accusing Dr Mahathir without checking the facts, Sagah was just showing his ignorance in the highest level.
Abdul Aziz said when looking into the historical facts, when PDA was passed in 1974, Tun Abdul Rahman Ya’kub was the chief minister of Sarawak while Tun Pehin Sri Taib Mahmud was the minister of primary industry.
When TSA was passed in 2012, Taib was chief minister of Sarawak.
“On July 24, 1974, Taib who was the then minister of primary industry stood up before the august House at 3.57 pm to table the Petroleum Development Bill for the second reading. The second reading continued the following day which saw him (Taib) standing up again at 3.35pm. After the third reading, the Petroleum Development Bill was passed at 4pm by all MPs from the Barisan Nasional (BN).
“From the Hansard, we can see that it was Lim Kit Siang from DAP (Bandar Melaka MP) who stood up against Taib. Lim was the only MP who stood up to protect Sarawak’s rights,” he said.
Abdul Aziz added that on March 27, 1975, it was the late Tun Rahman who signed on behalf of the Sarawak government to grant in perpetuity and convey to and vest in Petronas the ownership in and the exclusive rights, powers, liberties and privileges of exploring, exploiting, winning and obtaining petroleum whether lying onshore or offshore of Malaysia as stipulated in Schedule 2(2) in PDA 1974.
He said it was not Dr Mahathir’s fault when it was in fact Taib who tabled the Petroleum Development Bill and Tun Rahman who signed the Petroleum Agreement.
He said after Dr Mahathir retired from politics, the then minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Aziz stood up before the august House at 3.51pm on April 18, 2012 to table the Territorial Sea Bill for the second reading.
The bill was seconded by then deputy minister of public works and former Stampin MP Dato Yong Khoon Seng from SUPP, and was passed at 6.40pm of the same day.
“Why did a SUPP leader second a bill that eventually took away Sarawak’s rights? Thus, instead of accusing Dr Mahathir for eroding Sarawak’s rights, which history has shown otherwise, it’s time for Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) leaders to admit that it was the local leaders themselves who were actually the ones who directly and indirectly eroded Sarawak’s rights since 1974,” Abdul Aziz said.