By John Isaac
THREE Sarawak Legislative Assembly members today called on the DUN Speaker who is also Chairman of the Consultative Committee on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) to expeditiously call for a meeting.
The meeting was to deliberate matters pertaining to the negotiation, dealing and arrangement between the Sarawak State Government and Petronas to safeguard the State’s sovereign rights and interests to oil and gas within the territory of Sarawak.
The three assemblymen are Chiew Chiu Sing (N.68 Tanjong Batu), Irene Mary Chang Oi Ling (N.51 Bukit Assek) and See Chee How (N.11 Batu Lintang) – all also members of the Consultative Committee.
On November 6, 2018, the Sarawak DUN unanimously approved a ministerial motion tabled by Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah pursuant to Standing Order 23(1)(a) read together with Standing Order 89 and Article 24(1) of the State Constitution.
The motion was to establish a Consultative Committee to determine and agree upon the representations for submission to the Sarawak representatives of the MA63 Steering Committee to advance and safeguard the special interests, rights and position of Sarawak as enshrined in MA63 and the Federal Constitution.
It was also to meet the expectations of Sarawakians for greater autonomy and devolution of powers to the State.
On 8 May 2020, it was published in Sarawakian and national online media a joint statement signed by the Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Law, State-Federal Relationship and Project Monitoring) and the Chairman of Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) declaring that both the state government and Petronas had reached a settlement on their legal suits.
The said joint statement had disclosed, among others, that the state government and Petronas had agreed that Petronas pay RM2 billion to settle the sales tax imposed on the petroleum products for year 2019, and that future petroleum products sales tax will be reduced and staggered based on future negotiations.
Further, it was expressed that all previous agreements between the two parties made under the Petroleum Development Act are still valid and enforceable and that Petronas is still recognised as having full ownership and control over national oil and gas development, in line with the Federal Constitution.
“Most regrettably, the negotiation, arrangement and agreement reached between the state government and Petronas had proceeded without prior notice, deliberation nor sanction of the Consultative Committee on MA63,” the three assemblymen said in a joint statement.
On May 11, 2020, See (Batu Lintang) submitted an emergency motion to resolve for the assistant minister to reveal in the DUN the full settlement terms and seek for the DUN to review, appraise and deliberate on the terms and concessions and to instruct the state government on its present and future conduct of the legal proceedings to safeguard the sovereign rights of Sarawak to her land and all her resources.
In dismissing the said emergency motion, the DUN Speaker had ruled that the matters raised in the Motion must first be referred to the Consultative Committee on MA63 for it to discuss and advice the Sarawak DUN on the course of action to embark.
“We are most concerned that the agreement reached between the state government and Petronas will have detrimental and dire financial consequences on the State, and any concession made by the state government in their arrangement and agreement may contravene the desires, demands, and expectations of Sarawakians.
“We are pleased to note that the Chief Minister had on May 14, 2020 expressed that the new arrangement being negotiated and the negotiation will have to go through the Consultative Committee.
“We therefore call upon the Speaker who is also the Chairman of the Consultative Committee to expeditiously schedule and call for a meeting to deliberate on matters pertaining to the negotiation, dealing and arrangement between the State Government and Petronas to safeguard the State’s sovereign rights and interests to oil and gas within the territory of Sarawak.
“And we earnestly call on the state government not to allow any further steps to be taken by any state authority body or office to give legal effect to any of the terms of settlement until and unless the same have been fully deliberated and agreed upon by the Consultative Committee,” they added.