The recent file application before the Federal Court by Petronas in seeking for a declaration on the PDA 1974 should not be misused by certain quarters to rile up misleading and divisive statements in order to instate hatred among one another, but rather an opportunity for unity among us based on proper and right understanding on the issue at hand. So, it is important for us to understand, that in order for us to fight this right, we also need to understand it right.
I am not in any way defending Petronas in their application, but they have every legal right to file an action in court to seek clarity on its rights under the PDA 1974, especially with Chief Minister Abang Johari assertion that fromJuly 1, 2018, oil and gas (O&G) industry players must abide by state laws such as the Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO) 1958 and Gas Distribution Ordinance (GDO) 2016.
So, technically it is a natural process for the oil and gas company to seek and clarify that under the law, before abiding to any new or even old regulations that is set before them, in order to fully determine whether it is the exclusive owner of the petroleum resources as well as the regulator for the upstream industry throughout the country.
There are even misleading statements from State leaders claiming that this application is an attempt by Petronas or the Pakatan Harapan federal government to ‘steal more if not all’ of our oil & gas resources, depriving the State further in order to pay for loss of revenues due to the abolishment of GST or for whatever other reasons.
Technically, due to the PDA 1974 that was passed in parliament with the full consent of the Sarawak leaders, such full ownership has always belonged to Petronas since 1974 pursuant to Section 2(1) of the Act.
Under S.2(1), this provision stated that, “The entire ownership in, and exclusive rights, powers, liberties and privileges of exploring, exploiting, winning and obtaining petroleum whether it is onshore or offshore of Malaysia shall be vested in a Corporation to be incorporated under the Companies Act 1965 or under the law relating to incorporation of companies”
So, they are not demanding anything new, nor trying to ‘steal more’ or even taking away whatever royalty that is been given now. They are just seeking legal clarification over the matter. Such application would have likely happened even if the federal government was still under Barisan Nasional due to Abang Jo’s claims to assert their licensing rights.
Again, I would like to reiterate that I am in no way defending the actions of PETRONAS, but any denial of the legal implications of the claims by our State government is just an attempt to bury our heads in the sand or to continue to deceive the people of Sarawak. Even if Petronas did not initiate such claims, it doesn’t change the fact of the existence of the PDA 1974 as it has yet to be declared by a court of law to be null and void or amended or repealed in Parliament. No public declaration by anyone no matter the position can reverse a law that was consented and passed.
That’s why we should not adopt a ‘victim mentality’ in dealing with the clarification application by Petronas on the PDA1974. When we are confident with our rights, we should be confident that we now have a platform to prove our claims with proper legal authority, and not act as if we are being bullied or being attacked.
We now have the platform for the state government to prove that it has not been making blind assertions in saying that despite the above two legislations, the ownership of our oil and gas resources still belongs to the state including pushing forward arguments including such as the The PDA 1974 was enacted under an emergency law and it has never got endorsement and approval from DUN or cabinet.