The core issue in the Petronas debacle must be addressed

Baru Bian

Modified 16 Aug 2016, 4:21 am

ADUN SPEAKS The question of employment opportunities for Sarawakians in Petronas that has been in the news recently is not an isolated issue but has its roots in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the Petroleum Development Act 1974 that was passed during the time of the emergency, and is related to the question of our territorial rights.

This unfortunate situation that has evolved over the past few decades has led to the current tussle between the Sarawak government and Petronas, with the chief minister threatening to revoke the work permits of non-Sarawakians working in Petronas operations here.

Much has been said about the unconstitutionality of the Petroleum Development Act 1974 and the Territorial Sea Act 2012, the lifting of the Emergency Orders in 2011 and the right of Sarawak to ownership of our oil and gas resources.

Sarawakians began to speak up for our rights as far back as seven years ago and the government headed by the present chief minister has taken up the baton on this.

This latest incident over the moratorium on work permits for Peninsular Malaysian Petronas employees is merely part of the struggle we are facing.

The underlying intention of all the manoeuvring is to finally address the issue of our rights over our own resources.

Ultimately, it is the federal BN government that is to blame for this situation.

Fundamental to this whole issue is the fact that the federal BN government has never recognised the rights of Sarawak and Sabah as agreed under the Malaysia Agreement.

In fact, what had happened was the erosion of our rights over the years, perhaps starting from the time when Singapore left the federation and we lost our veto power of 34 percent representation in Parliament.

Our Sarawakian MPs, unfortunately, did not do much by way of protecting our rights and interests.

Look at the original intention

This quandary must not be allowed to remain as such. The government must not allow it to carry on - now is the time for us to call a spade a spade.

Let us cease calling the discussions with the federal government a 'negotiation for devolution'. This is the time for the determination, confirmation and affirmation of what is ours.

We must look at the original intention behind the formation of Malaysia and insist on the proper performance of the contract made between the parties. In this aspect, we are behind the Sarawak leadership in their efforts.

Sadly, it is perfectly clear that the federal BN government, right from the beginning, had no intention of honouring the promises made under the Malaysia Agreement.

It is also perfectly clear that as long as the BN is in power, there is no hope for Sarawak to reclaim what is ours.

As I see it, there are two possibilities of ending this impasse.

The first is a change in the federal BN government during the next general election.

The second scenario requires the chief minister to seriously reflect on his position, knowing full well the BN-Umno government will never give up its hold over Sarawak.

It is up to him to leave the BN and work with the opposition to fight for the rights of Sarawakians, rather than to continue to be loyal to those who persist in thumbing their noses at us, while paying us lip service.

Enough with their broken promises and enough of unreliable BN-Umno federal leaders.

BARU BIAN is the state assemblyperson for Ba'kelalan and Sarawak PKR chief.