By S. Harrish
BATU Lintang assemblyman See Chee How resigned as a member of the Sarawak Consultative Committee on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), citing a lack of transparency.
He said the state’s negotiations with Petronas and the federal government for the settlement of the state sales tax owed to Sarawak was no longer transparent.
“With my resignation, I wish to put on record my fervent protest against any unauthorised, illegitimate and improper conduct of the Sarawak government, acting outside the purview of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly and the MA63 Consultative Committee,” he said in a press conference today.
His resignation came after Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the settlement and agreement between Petronas and Sarawak regarding payment of the tax would be made known after Aug 3.
Awang Tengah had also said a joint committee consisting of members from the Sarawak and federal governments as well as Petronas were still negotiating the details of the terms and conditions, and would only announce the outcome later.
Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg had previously announced that the state had set up a working committee which would have the executive power to negotiate with Petronas and the federal government as well as another committee from the consultative committee that would look into the legal implications and the state laws governing the oil and gas industry.
The consultative committee had appointed a team headed by Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah to negotiate and participate in talks with Petronas and the federal government to facilitate the committee’s advice to the state legislative assembly.
However, See said the negotiating team had yet to meet.
“Neither have they met with the working committee appointed by the state government, nor have they been invited to make representation to the working committee.
“Yet, the joint committee said to consist members from the Sarawak government, the federal government and Petronas are already in the midst of negotiating the finer details of the terms and conditions for the settlement and agreement between Sarawak and Petronas.
“It is most unfortunate that the chief minister and the state government have chosen to negotiate with the federal government and Petronas by exercising its executive power.
“By conducting itself outside the purview of the Sarawak state legislative assembly and the MA63 consultative committee, the process is no longer transparent and is in danger of being labelled as unauthorised, illegitimate and improper,” he said.
He said it was untenable for him to remain as a member of the consultative committee and the negotiating team as the roles, intents and purposes of it had been ignored by the exercise of an executive power.
“We are repeating the mistake that was made in 1975 when a person or a group of persons, chose to carry out an executive decision and action, to ignore and defy the Sarawak constitution and the authority of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly, to negotiate and determine the fundamental and constitutional rights of Sarawak and all Sarawakians,” See said.