Musa joins oil royalty debate

(The Malaysian Insider) – Former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam appeared last night to back Kelantan’s oil royalty claims, when he said that the state government should be allowed to manage federal funds whether they are called oil royalties or goodwill payments.

He said such funds should be paid directly to the state government in accordance with the law and should not be channelled through special committees.

In an interview with Astro Awani tonight, Musa said the funds must be paid to the state government because the aim of such payments was for the public’s benefit.

“Whether it is goodwill payments or oil royalty that is not important. As long as they use it for development for the people.

“We should establish a system where we can monitor the funds even if the powers are given to the state government,” he said.

Musa’s comments come amid his Umno colleague Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s campaign to back Kelantan’s oil royalty claim.

Putrajaya is adamant that it will not pay one sen of oil royalty to Kelantan for oil and gas extracted in a shared production block off its waters.

Instead the government will pay out RM20 million to the Kelantanese people via federal agencies in what it calls a goodwill payment, similar to the mechanism it used in Terengganu between 1999 and 2009 when PAS was in power.

Tengku Razaleigh also warned Umno-Barisan Nasional (BN) today that the ruling coalition could lose crucial votes in the next general election if the federal government continued to deny Kelantan’s oil royalty claims.