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Sabahans also heave a sigh of relief
Published on: Saturday, June 23, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Sabahans are relieved by the Federal Court's dismissal of Petronas' bid to commence proceedings against the Sarawak Government to determine that it is the sole authority of all upstream oil and gas activities in the state.

With the decision of the apex court, the call on the Sabah Government to intervene in the suit filed by the national oil company against the Sarawak Government no longer arise.

The apex court on Friday rejected the company's application for leave to commence the proceedings.

Parti Warisan Sabah Chairman Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the outcome is a huge relief to Sabahans who have been concerned about the legal ramifications of the suit to all oil and gas producing states, including Sabah.

He had assured last week that in the event the Federal Court granted Petronas' application for leave, the Sabah Government through the Attorney-General would make a proper application to intervene.

"It has no doubt alleviated the anxiety and anguish of many over the matter.

"At the same time it has also dismissed the many critics from the opposition over their unfounded remarks," he said.

Last month, Petronas filed an application to seek the Federal Court's declaration concerning the Petroleum Development Act 1974 and its position with regard to the control of upstream activities in Sarawak.

Petronas was seeking leave to declare that the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) was duly enacted by Parliament and that by the provisions of the PDA, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Petronas have exclusive regulatory authority over the petroleum in Malaysia , be it onshore or offshore.

Liew, who is also Batu Sapi Member of Parliament, had said Sabah had different issues, such as "unresolved" oil blocks, including those overlapping with Brunei's.

Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku President Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said the decision is a good sign for the future of Sabah and Sarawak and the first step towards the reclaiming of oil and gas ownership by the oil producing States. 

"Being in the forefront of the struggle to regain Sabah Rights including its oil and gas ownership, we welcome the decision by the Federal Court," he said.

He said the decision was a great relief because if the court was to allow Petronas to be unconstitutionally bestowed with the right to exercise regulatory control over Sarawak's oil and gas resources, and by extension to Sabah as well, it would have potentially triggered an unwanted movement for the break-up of the Malaysian Federation.

Dr Jeffrey, who is also Keningau Member of Parliament and Tambunan Assemblymen, added that the decision not only allows Sarawak to assert regulatory control over its oil and gas resources, which it intends to enforce from 1 July 2018, it has similar ramifications for all oil producing States.

"We, as in Parti Solidariti and BHF (Borneo Heritage Foundation), as well as our coalition partners in Gabungan Sabah, SAPP, Harapan Rakyat and PPRS, have been forthright in stating that the oil and gas resources in Sabah belongs to Sabah and Sabahans.

"Our firm stand is very unlike that taken by BN and Pakatan Harapan and now Warisan that Sabah's oil and gas belongs to Petronas and the Federal Government and are only wishing to ask for 20 per cent as the cash payment instead of asking for the oil and gas ownership to be returned," he said.

He said not only is the oil and gas ownership the constitutional and legal right of Sabah and Sarawak as per the State List in the 9thSchedule of the Federal Constitution, the right to exercise regulatory control rests all the while with the governments of Sabah and Sarawak except that it was never exercised or dare not to be exercised by the previous BN State governments for fear of reprisal by their political masters in Kuala Lumpur.

The decision, he said, also means that any Sabah government now, will have to exercise regulatory control over Sabah's oil and gas resources to truly represent the rights of Sabah to its natural resources.  

The State Government and the relevant State authorities should now enforce the relevant State laws to ensure Petronas and all oil industry players comply.

"Any failure by the Sabah Government can only be interpreted to mean that it is weak and subservient to the federal government of the day and are unable to stand up for the rights of the people of Sabah.

"The right of Sarawak, and Sabah by extension, now to assert its regulatory authority over its oil and gas resources, means both States have suffered huge loss of income and revenues from such licensing, permits and mining leases for the period since 1976," he added. - Leonard Alaza

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