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Friday, June 22, 2018

Sabah Must Exercise Regulatory Control Over Its Oil Resources

KOTA KINABALU -  “The rejection by the Federal Court of the Application by Petronas for leave to refer to the Federal Court the issue of regulatory control over oil and gas resources in Sarawak is the first step towards the reclaiming of oil and gas ownership by the oil producing States. It is definitely a good sign for the future of Sabah and Sarawak”.

“As President of Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku and the Borneo Heritage Foundation (BHF) and 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 this morning,” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan.

The decision is also a great relief as any decision by the Court to allow Petronas to be unconstitutionally bestowed the right to exercise regulatory control over Sarawak’s oil and gas resources, and by extension to Sabah as well, it might have 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 until is it overruled to the contrary, not only allows Sarawak to assert regulatory control over its oil and gas resources, which it intends to enforce from 1st July 2018, it has similar ramifications for all oil producing States.

We, as in Parti Solidariti and BHF, 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% as the cash payment instead of asking for the oil and gas ownership to be returned.

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 respectively 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 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 with them.

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.

As Petronas started from zero and is now a Fortune 500 international oil conglomerate due to the oil and gas revenues from Sabah and Sarawak as well as the other oil producing States, it should have no financial problem in returning the licensing and other regulatory fees accrued since 1976.

The ball is now in the court of the Sabah and Sarawak governments to claim for the arrears of the licensing and other regulatory fees due since 1976 in addition to enforce regulatory control.

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