Monday, June 4, 2018

Petroleum Nasional Berhad (Petronas) vs the Government of Sarawak

Earlier today, Petronas announced that they have filed an application with the Federal Court seeking to declare that Petronas is the exclusive owner of petroleum resources throughout Malaysia (click here for the media statement from Petronas) based on an Act called the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (click here for a copy of the Act).

In response to the announcement, the Sarawak state government have announced that they are willing to go to court to defend their rights to petroleum resources that are found within the jurisdiction of the state (click here for the response by the Sarawak state).

In the PDA 1974, it is mentioned under Section 2 (1) that "... the exclusive rights, powers, liberties and privileges of exploring, exploiting, winning and obtaining petroleum whether onshore or offshore of Malaysia shall be vested in a Corporation to be incorporated under the Companies Act 1965...".

Based on the Act under Section 3(1), the company is Petroleum Nasional Berhad or Petronas.

Also in the same Act under Section 3(2), "The Corporation shall be subject to the control and direction of the Prime Minister who may from time to time issue such direction as he may deem fit."

Under Section 3(3), the direction issued by the Prime Minister is binding on Petronas.

However, I am not a legal expert so I will not go into legal technicalities in this post.

I have no doubt that the current state government under Barisan Nasional will fight for the right of Sarawak over petroleum resources found within the state's jurisdiction.

However, that is not enough.

The people of Sarawak also have to push their representatives under Pakatan Harapan to also fight for their rights. Under Pakatan Harapan's manifesto (click here for a copy of the manifesto), Promise 41 (page 91) states that "The 1974 Petroleum Development Act will be scrutinised to review Petronas's monopoly on national gas and oil products, especially from Sabah and Sarawak. This is to enable Sabah and Sarawak to set up their own oil and gas companies, and not limiting their role as a contractor to Petronas only."

Based on the recent election results, there are 12  parliament seats (10 from Pakatan + 2 independent who later joined Pakatan) in Sarawak held by Pakatan Harapan representatives (click here for the election results). Therefore, the people of Sarawak should demand Pakatan representatives to fulfil the manifesto as mentioned under Promise 41 which is to ensure the prosperity of the people of Sabah and Sarawak by enhancing the states' economic growth.

The campaign and election period is over.

For Sarawak to be able to protect their rights over petroleum resources found within the state, all leaders (from whichever party they may be) should work towards defending the state's rights.

And because the current Malaysian government is held by Pakatan Harapan, now is the time for the 'wakil rakyat' or representative from Pakatan Harapan to work and uphold the promise made in Pakatan's manifesto.

To the state government held by Barisan Nasional, hire the best legal team to fight for the rights of the state and do not let your people down.

To the people of Sarawak, this is not the time for you to be a spectator (or keyboard warrior). Demand proof that your representative is working in the best interest of the state and their people. And to those with legal expertise, you can also contribute your knowledge and experience by assisting those who are directly involved in the case.

This is Malaysia Baru.

But... Is it really?

Let's prove it really is Malaysia Baru by being informed, well-read and intelligent citizens - proactive Malaysians.

xoxo Fareiny

Ps: Some have mentioned that the Malaysian Agreement 1963 may be relevant to this case. I have not read the agreement (as I said, I am not a legal expert) but you can read the agreement if you like (click here for a copy of MA63).