Sabah & Sarawak should move to review Oil Agreement and revoke PDA

Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan

Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan

The governments of Sabah and Sarawak should pass a motion in their respective Legislative Assemblies to review the Petroleum ‘Surrender’ Agreement (PSA) and thereafter cooperate with Pakatan MPs to revoke or outlaw the Petroleum Development Act (PDA) 1974 said Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, President of the Borneo Heritage Foundation who is also STAR Sabah Chairman.

He said, the time has now come to put things right.  The Sabah and Sarawak Government must act quickly while they still can as political conditions in the country may change at any given moment.

Dr Jeffrey, who is also the Bingkor Assemblyman, was referring to the current political scenario where the BN Government is hanging on to the power at their behest.

He said only the support of Sabah and Sarawak is keeping Najib as Prime Minister.  At the same time, Anwar Ibrahim of Pakatan desperately wants to be Prime Minister as well.   The Chief Ministers of Sabah and Sarawak must play their strategic cards well in this situation.

“If Pakatan is   and sincere in their struggle for justice and autonomy for the Borneo States, they will surely support the motion though I doubt it” said Jeffrey.

However, Najib will want to save his neck and his Government by agreeing to the Borneo States’ demands and he should.

“If the leaders and Government of Sabah and Sarawak failed to make this move then it is obvious that their self interests command their public political life and not the common interest of Sabah and Sarawak and their people” added Dr Jeffrey.

It is doubtful that PR will support the Borneo States’ demands because their goal is merely to take over Putrajaya using the support of leaders in Sabah and Sarawak but at the end of the day, they will want to maintain control of the nation’s most strategic and powerful resource.

That’s because 46% of the nation’s revenue comes from petroleum of which 85% are derived from Sabah and Sarawak.

But for the Borneo States they must act now, move forward, rise above political and self interest!  It is now or never as the window of opportunity may close at any time.

Formerly Sabah Chief Minister, Harris Salleh, had stated that he was “forced” into signing the PSA in 1976 on the basis advanced by the federal government that oil found off-shore Sabah belonged to the federal government and signing and getting 5% was better than getting nothing at all, although the two Chief Ministers before him, the late Tun Mustapha and late Tun Fuad, did not sign the PSA.

The PDA in 1974 is a piece of unconstitutional and illegal legislation passed to seize the oil and gas resources from Sabah and Sarawak.   Oil and gas rights belonged to the States and were within the ambit of the State Lists in the Federal Constitution and the federal Parliament had no authority to pass the PDA.

The late Tun Razak, Najib’s father, had no lawful right to sign the Vesting Order in 1975 pursuant to the PDA and vesting the oil and gas ownership rights in Petronas in perpetuity.

In a single signature, Tun Razak, “robbed” Sabah and Sarawak of their oil and gas ownership rights.  It has to be remembered that before 1974 Sarawak was already producing oil and collecting its own oil revenue.   In Sabah, oil exploration started in the late 1960s and the Sabah government had signed oil agreements with oil companies to collect the oil revenue including collection of rents on the oil areas and oil production started before the 1976 PSA.

It is no longer conscionable for Petronas and the federal government to seize ownerships of the oil and gas and giving back 5% of the exploited revenue to Sabah and Sarawak.   In 2014, Sarawak will contribute about RM50 billion and Sabah another RM26.6 billion to Petronas and the federal government while Sabahans and Sarawakians languish as the poorest and second poorest in Malaysia.

The Sabah and Sarawak governments and lawmakers need to stand up for their fellow Sabahans and Sarawakians and take the necessary action to revoke the PDA.   It has become their legal and moral duty to do so and not condemn the future generations to continued poverty.