Go after Putrajaya instead of Petronas for oil royalty raise, Sarawak BN told

BY SULOK TAWIE
Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen, at a press conference, showing a published statement by Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club expressing its anger at Petronas, April 19, 2017. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, April 19 — The Sarawak Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club (BNBBC) is barking up the wrong tree by directing its anger at Petronas on the slow negotiation process in raising the state royalty oil payments, an Opposition lawmaker said today.

Instead, Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen said the BNBBC should seek out an explanation from the federal government for dragging its feet in getting Sarawak a 20 per cent cut instead of the present 5 per cent.

“The BNBBC, therefore, is barking at the wrong mountain because it is expressing its anger at Petronas, not at the federal government,” he said, responding to BNBBC chairman Abdullah Saidol’s reported criticism against the national oil company.

Abdullah, who is also the state lawmaker for Semop, had demanded Petronas show a “more convincing level of seriousness when treating Sarawak’s demand”.

He had said Petronas should be treating the ongoing negotiation with the state government earnestly and with respect.

“If Petronas continues to behave or act without a sign of respect for us, why should we be too lenient with them?” Abdullah was quoted as saying.

But Chong who is also Sarawak DAP chief was sceptical of his home state seeing the royalty raise in the foreseeable future despite the passage of a resolution in the state legislative assembly three years ago.

“The resolution, although unanimously supported by the state assemblymen from the Barisan and the Opposition, appeared to have been cast aside by the federal government,” he claimed.

He pointed out that Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg was reported to have said in January that Sarawak could ask for more funds from the federal government in lieu of the royalty, if the negotiation for the increase ended in failure.

“In other words, the chief minister was literally saying that there was no hope in getting the increase in royalty,” Chong said.

He also claimed that his questions on the issue filed in Parliament have been buried.

“Those questions were important, but they were rejected without assigning any reasons,” he said.

He added that the only solution to the prolonged royalty problem was to vote out the BN at the next general elections due by mid next year.