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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sabah Has Own Alteration of Boundaries Order in Council 1954

KOTA KINABALU - “Sabah has its own “North Borneo (Alteration of Boundaries) Order in Council 1954” made by Her Majesty The Queen of Britain on 24th June 1954 with the advice of Her Privy Council pursuant to the Colonial Boundaries Act, 1895, which extended Sabah’s boundaries”,” says Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, President of Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) cum Bingkor Assemblyman in response to news that the Sarawak legal team to London had uncovered the Sarawak (Extension of Boundaries) Order in Council, 1954.

Like the Sarawak Order in Council, the Sabah (then North Borneo) Order in Council also extended the boundaries of the then Colony of North Borneo to “include the area of the continental shelf being the seabed and its subsoil which lies beneath the high seas contiguous to the territorial waters of North Boneo”.   

What then are the legal implications and consequences of both the Orders in Council?

“Well, both Alteration of Boundaries Orders in Council, they carry serious consequences to Sabah and Sarawak’s sovereign rights, particularly to the ownership of the oil and gas resources found off their territories up to the continental shelf” stressed Dr. Jeffrey.

First and foremost, arising from the Orders in Council, the boundaries of Sabah and Sarawak before they formed Malaysia on Malaysia Day, 16 September 1963, was up to the continental including its seabed and subsoil which lies underneath the high seas.

These boundaries of Sabah and Sarawak were accepted and recognized in Article 1(3) of the Federal Constitution which states that the territories of each of the States are the territories comprised therein immediately before Malaysia Day.

Under the Land Ordinance (Sabah Cap. 68), land is defined to include land under the sea, and which extends up to the continental shelf pursuant to the Order in Council, which is more than the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone.

Under Section 24 of the Land Ordinance, minerals in the land which is defined to include mineral oils and petroleum, are reserved for and owned by the Government of Sabah who are also empowered to control, deal and licence its exploration, exploitation and mining.

In fact, Sabah has started production of crude oil long before the passing of the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA74).   Sabah under the late Tun Mustapha had in 1969 signed 6 international oil agreements with international oil companies to explore and mine the oil with Sabah to receive, amongst others, royalties of 12.5% of the oil won at those concessions.

Under the State List in the 9th Schedule of the Federal Constitution, land is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the States including the right over licensing for their mining as set out under Item 2(c) and the Federal government has no legislative jurisdiction over land in Sabah and Sarawak.

The PDA74 that was passed in the Federal Parliament is unconstitutional in that it was in non-compliance of the Federal Constitution.

Similarly, the then Prime Minister Tun Razak had no legal authority sign the Vesting Order dated 26 March 1975 under Section 2 of the PDA74 which vested Sabah’s oil and gas ownership to Petronas.

Likewise, if the Sarawak legal team does their homework, they will discover that their oil and gas ownership were stolen by Petronas and should advise the Sarawak government to re-claim their lawful ownership rights over their oil and gas resources.

“I have raised the unconstitutionality of the vesting of Sabah’s oil and gas ownership in the State Legislature and to the Sabah government on numerous occasions but ignored each time” said Dr. Jeffrey.

Unfortunately, the Sabah government is reluctant to act because they are subservient to their political masters in Kuala Lumpur and the Sabah BN leaders fear losing their positions and not being re-nominated to be candidates thus losing all their perks and benefits.

Sabah produces some 65% of Malaysia’s crude oil production and Petronas and the Federal government are likely to reap RM35 billion from Sabah’s oil and gas revenues in 2017.

Sabahans need to wake up and realise the amount of losses they lose every year when their Sabah government fails to take action to re-claim Sabah’s oil and gas ownership.

Malaya, Putrajaya township, Petronas and the Petronas Twin Towers would not be what they are today if not for Sabah and Sarawak’s oil and gas revenues.

Of all the political parties and coalitions, only the STAR and Gabungan Sabah coalition are seeking the return of Sabah’s oil and gas ownership.   The other parties are still adopting an “Agenda Malaya” stand and wish Petronas and the federal government to continue to own Sabah’s oil and gas resources and giving back only 5% of its revenues to Sabah.

In PRU-14, Sabahans need to elect a strong and responsible Sabah government to look after Sabah and their rights and interests and stop the stealing of Sabah’s oil and gas resources which are siphoned off to develop Malaya.      

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