STAR president warns Sarawak CM not to accept any of federal govt's oil and gas proposals

Sulok Tawie
STAR president Lina Soo showing an agreement signed by former Chief Minister the late Tun Abdul Rahman Ya'kub granting in perpetuity the rights, powers, liberties and privileges in respect of petroleum , August 22, 2019. ― Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Aug 22 — Sarawak Reform Party (STAR) president Lina Soo today cautioned Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg not to accept any proposal related to oil and gas raised in his meeting with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, without consulting the Sarawak State Assembly.

She said any proposal raised by the federal government in regards to the state's oil and gas resources must be tabled at the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly for a decision.

“The chief minister cannot just accept the proposals without the agreement of the Sarawakians through their elected representatives in the State Assembly,” she told reporters when referring to Abang Johari's statement that issues relating to the state's oil and gas resources would be discussed exclusively between him and Dr Mahathir, instead of going through the Special Cabinet Committee on the review of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Soo said the last time the issues were discussed without any consultation it ended up with Sarawak signing away its exclusive rights and ownership, powers, liberties and privileges of exploring, exploiting and obtaining petroleum, whether lying offshore or inshore, of oil and gas resources to the Nasional Petroliam Berhad (Petronas).

She said the discussion then was between former Chief Minister the late Tun Abdul Rahman Ya'kub and former Prime Minister the late Tun Razak Hussein.

Soo said Rahman Ya'kub, on behalf of the Sarawak government, signed the agreement granting in perpetuity the rights, powers, liberties and privileges in respect of petroleum on March 27, 1975.

“As a result of the agreement signed by Rahman Ya'kub, the people of Sarawak have suffered economic losses to the tune of trillions since then,” she said.

Soo maintained that the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) is an unconstitutional vesting order as the former chief minister had no authority to give away any state resources belonging to Sarawak without the concurrence of the state assembly.

She pointed out that Article 95D of the Federal Constitution stipulates exclusion for the states of Sabah and Sarawak of the powers of their state assemblies to pass uniform laws about land.

“Therefore, it is very clear that the federal government may not make laws pertaining to land, which is exclusively a State List item in the Federal Constitution,” she said.

Soo reiterated that the prime minister cannot decide on land matters and ownership of natural resources including oil and gas or to deal with such issues in secret isolation without the full view and participation of Sarawakians who are the real stakeholders and landowners.

She said the law is very clear that Sarawakian rights to land pre-and-post Malaysia is sacrosanct and attached to every Sarawakian as of birthright.

“I do hope that the Sarawak government will do the right thing to be transparent and accountable to Sarawakians in pursuit of our heritage and economic rights,” she added.

Soo also urged Abang Johari to table a motion in the state assembly to state clearly that PDA and Territorial Sea Act 2012 are not applicable to Sarawak.

“It is not enough for him to say that these two federal laws are not applicable. It must be decided by the state assembly to make the non-applicable to have legal effects,” she said.

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