No hurry for committee on MA63 to discuss oil and gas matters, says Sarawak minister

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah speaks to reporters July 25, 2019. ― Picture by Sulok Tawie
Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah speaks to reporters July 25, 2019. ― Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Sept 10 — Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said there is no urgency for the Sarawak Consultative Committee on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) to meet and discuss the state’s oil and gas matters.

He added that currently, things are going along well, including the forthcoming 5 per cent payment from Petronas.

“The committee is still there but there is no need for it to be pushing because things are going fine.”

“The payment of about RM3 billion is forthcoming, exact amount not sure as Petronas have to pay for interest and penalty. This is for one year, 2019,” he told reporters when asked about the committee’s update at the State Youth Development Committee Meeting yesterday.

He added that previously, things did not go smoothly, but the prime minister and chief minister share the same opinion and the state is able to get the 5 per cent sales tax quite easily.

He said the committee headed by himself is more from the legal perspective, and the state has members in the federal cabinet and senior minister  FadillahYusof also formed a committee, thus several matters regarding oil and gas had already been addressed.

In January last year, the Sarawak government imposed a 5 per cent sales tax on Petronas’ petroleum products under the state’s Sales Tax Ordinance 1998, which the later refused to pay, citing it as unconstitutional. The state government then took legal action against it.

The Kuching High Court then ruled on March 13 that Sabah and Sarawak had the right under the Federal Constitution to impose sales tax on petroleum products.

Meanwhile, former consultative committee member cum Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How said he had forseen and expected Abdul Karim to say this (no urgency to meet and discuss), and was the reason why he made the decision to quit the committee.

“The Sarawak GPS government had decided that they will deal with the negotiation with Petronas by exercising their executive power. By doing that, the Sarawak government had acted outside the purview of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) and the MA63 CC that was appointed by the DUN.”

“I maintain that the conduct of such negotiation was unauthorised, illegitimate and improper,” he added. — Borneo Post