KUCHING (Jan 24): The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS)-led government needs to fight for the state’s entitled oil and gas (O&G) revenue and those that can be derived from its maritime resources to enhance its financial capacity towards funding the long-awaited basic infrastructure and amenities for the well-being of the people.
In making this call, Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh says it is indeed time for the Sarawak government under GPS to ‘take control of its own destiny’.
He also pointed out that the Sarawak government was bestowed full power by the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) on Nov 6, 2018, in the form of the DUN Sarawak Consultative Committee, to negotiate with the federal government over the lost rights and interest of Sarawak.
“The entire honourable members of DUN, including members of the opposition, are behind the Premier and his team in the fight towards reclaiming our rights and interests.
“And when we fight for devolution of power, we are fighting for devolution of power with its financial implications. We cannot accept political and administrative devolution and autonomy without taking care of the financial aspects, and our benefits.
“Devolution and autonomy must come with our access to our financial resources,” he said in a statement issued in connection with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s recent visit here to chair the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) Implementation Action Council meeting to resolve matters relating to MA63 and other related issues.
Wong pointed out that now with the ‘Unity Government’ at federal level headed by a Prime Minister who was willing to listen and was sympathetic to Sarawak’s cause, the state government must now be very firm in stating its claims, like what Sabah government had done on Jan 20 immediately after the MA63 Implementation Action Council meeting.
“Sabah is steadfastly maintaining its stand in rejecting the Territorial Sea Act (TSA) 2012.
“The Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor asserted that its sea boundary should be more than 200 nautical miles per the North Borneo (Alteration of Boundaries) Order in Council 1954.
“Now that Sabah has so emphatically made its stand on rejecting Territorial Sea Act 2012, we in Sarawak should echo and make similar stand. The Sarawak GPS government, being the kingmaker of the present federal Unity Government, should assert similar demand.
“The Premier ought to ‘walk his talk’ now’: ‘The time is now, for us, as ‘Anak Sarawak’ (children of Sarawak) to defend our inalienable rights in determining the fate of our beloved homeland Sarawak.
“We must fight hard, with great courage and wisdom’, so said the Premier on Nov 14, 2018, to all honourable members in the chamber of DUN,” said Wong.
The PSB chief said it must be understood that the original Financial Plan for Malaysia was that the federal side would take the income and other tax revenues from Sarawak and spend on Sarawak regarding matters of national interests such as law and order, security, education and public health.
Wong, however, lamented that along the way, the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA74) took away Sarawak’s rights over oil and gas, as well as deep sea maritime resources.
He said as a result, Sarawak’s only contribution from oil and gas was a mere five per cent royalty.
“And revenue from five per cent to Sarawak over the past 42 years (1976 to 2018) was a mere RM33.5 billion. This quantum of revenue from oil and gas for Sarawak is grossly insignificant when compared to hundreds of billions received by the federal government from oil and gas of Sarawak.
“The Premier of Sarawak, in his DUN winding-up speech on Nov 14, 2018, said: “We have been deprived of enjoying better quality of life for more than half a century despite the fact that the state of Sarawak is the largest oil producing state in Malaysia. What an irony’,” he said.