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When promises are meant to be broken
Published on: Sunday, July 29, 2018

By Dr Johan Ariffin
Sabahans are very disappointed with the recent announcement by the newly minted Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo that Kota Kinabalu will host the national-level Malaysia Day 2018 celebration on Sept 16.

The social media was afire with comments like – “so what is the difference between BN and the PH government, it’s all the same, nothing has changed”.

Every year the Federal Government stirs the same anger and resentment.

Every year, the same question – why celebrate Malaysia day in Kota Kinabalu or Kuching and not the Federal capital? Why is Merdeka celebrations bigger than Malaysia day. Are we Malaya or Malaysia?

Why is it only in 2009 that the Federal government declared Malaysia day a public holiday on September 16 and gave the significant date its due recognition? After 55 years of Malaysia, East Malaysians have given up on the concept of greater Malaysia where we are recognised as equal partners.

Some say, in hindsight, Singapore did the right thing at the right time by leaving Malaysia.

Singapore prosperity and success as a nation cannot be denied after taking that route.

One netizen commented, “If this situation is going to continue under PH government, we respectfully request Tun Mahathir to move Malaysia’s capital to Kota Kinabalu, and Kuala Lumpur to become the capital of Malaya.

In addition, we do not need to celebrate Merdeka day in Sabah and Sarawak, saving time money and resources for a celebration that holds no meaning to East Malaysians”.

There is nothing much to celebrate this Malaysia day. The oil royalty issue has dampened the spirits of East Malaysians. Most West Malaysian are not concerned with the issue as it does not affect them.

The issue has now taken centre stage in the “kedai kopi” talk here. The flip flop between oil royalty and profit sharing and the lack of clarity of how the 20pc is to be calculated has raised suspicion and fuelled anger.

There are talks about the broken promise in the manifesto, the promise that East Malaysian states would get 20pc royalty if PH takes over the government.

On the DPM Wan Azizah recent visit to Sabah, she was reported to have said, “We have to think of the coffers of the country, and then see how we can fulfil it properly because we do not want to make empty promises”.

They (Federal government) were committed to their manifesto but ‘how to play it’ was something else”.

Such statements has made the situation muddier. Until and unless someone comes out with a clear formula on how the 20pc is calculated, the angst being felt in East Malaysia is not going to go away.

So now we know, the 20pc depends on the country coffers, not on how much Sabah produce for the nation.

Federal takes the cake, leaving us the crumbs.

Such statements from the DPM which lacks clarity adds fuel to the fire. I always said the government are the worst communicators when it comes to explaining policies. It’s better to work out the formula first as stated in the PDA 1974 Agreement clause 4. “In return for the ownership and the rights, powers, liberties and privileges vested in it by virtue of this Act, the Corporation shall make to the Government of the Federation and the Government of any relevant State such cash payment as may be agreed between the parties concerned”.

In essence, there must be negotiations and agreement between parties, and it cannot be done unilaterally.

Putting the cart before the horse creates all kinds of emotions which is totally unnecessary.

Our energy is better spent elsewhere.

Sarawak has since challenged Petronas as a corporation which claims full ownership of the oil and gas resources in the state. Chief Minister of Sarawak Abang Johari Tun Openg said the provision of royalty and profits based on oil production are two different things. Hence, he said the government of Sarawak wished to seek further explanation from the federal government on the matter. Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal refused to comment and said he will defer an answer to the question on what he thought Mahathir meant, pending further discussion with the prime minister. Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali said the proposed 20 per cent oil royalty payment to producing states cannot be implemented as it contravenes the Petroleum Development Act 1974, further dampening the honeymoon period after opposition victory.

Is the promise of 20pc royalty a political ploy to get Malaysian to vote for PH government, some ask?

Is this promise meant to be broken? The argument over oil royalty is still raging in the social media.

The oil royalty issue is not going to go anytime and a quick resolution is required.

In an interview with South China Morning Post in June, Dr M says Pakatan honeymoon won’t last forever.

“I can’t always be popular. One day I will become unpopular because when you are in the government, you have to do unpopular things. So that (my popularity) is not something permanent,” he said.

For East Malaysians, is the honeymoon over with the PH government? All I can say, it’s good while it lasted.

I wish it could be longer to feel the love like in the Walt Disney cartoons, between Federal and the state.

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