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August 29, 2012

Did Taib ‘surrender’ oil right to BN?


Did Taib ‘surrender’ oil right to BN?

KUCHING: Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s turnaround on the oil royalty issue after 31 years in power and the fact that he preferred “private” and “amicable discussions” with the federal government have raised more questions.

Uppermost on the list is whether Taib and his predecessor and uncle, Abdul Rahman Yakub, had knowingly “surrendered” Sarawak’s rights over oil and gas to the federal government.

Sarawakians who have read Taib’s biography – “A Soul You Can See” – written by Douglas Bullis and who remember their history, would recall that Taib was the federal-level Primary Industries Minister who was in charge of the nation’s oil and gas resources.

This being the case, was Taib responsible for the lopsided oil agreement and the Petroleum Development Act passed in Parliament in 1974?

The Act was passed following a confrontation between Opec (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and oil companies over oil price policies in 1973.

Expounding on the 1973 “crisis”, Taib was quoted by Bullis as saying: “By 1973 I realised Malaysia and the oil companies were headed for a confrontation over their purchase price policies.

“There was too much take and too little give, and Malaysia’s people have an ethic based on balance,” Taib had said in page 88 of the book.

“Eventually I came up with the idea that we should base Malaysia’s oil concession policy on shared production agreements.

“Naturally I was snubbed by oil companies who claimed the Malaysian government was moving towards nationalisation.”

Taib’s silence

Bullis said that it was obvious that Malaysia’s post-1974 policy on taking control of Malaysia’s petroleum interests from oil companies was largely Taib’s works.

It is well known in Sabah that its then chief minister Mustapha Harun and his successor Fuad (Donald) Stephens refused to sign the oil agreement giving 5% of oil royalty to Sabah, but Sarawak under Abdul Rahman was said to be “too willing” and signed the agreement.

But the question is: Did the nephew and the uncle “surrender” Sarawak’s rights over oil and gas to the federal government in order to please the then prime minister Abdul Razak in return for political and financial support?

Sarawak was at that time in turmoil following the sacking of its chief minister Stephen Kalong Ningkan in 1966.

At the time there were incessant allegations by the Parti Pesaka anak Sarawak president Temenggong Jugah anak Barieng that the Ibans were shabbily treated by Abdul Rahman and Taib.

Abdul Rahman was also facing an “internal rebellion” against his leadership from within Pesaka, which had by then (in 1973) merged with Parti Bumiputera to form Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB).

At the point of signing the oil agreement, Sarawak was said to be politically unstable and needed the support of the federal government.

Could history be the reason why Taib has been silent on the royalty issue during his 31-year tenure as chief minister? And why he has been compliant to Umno in the peninsula, having pumped millions into its coffers?

What off-the-table deal did Taib and Abdul Rahman eventually strike with the federal leadership that allowed them to sustain Sarawak’s “independence” as opposed to Sabah’s “colonialisation” by Kuala Lumpur?

What has now compelled Taib to call for re-negotiations on the oil royalty issue?

It certainly cannot be fear of losing his grip in Sarawak because he has already won the state election held in April last year.

If it is the parliamentary election, Sarawak BN coalition is unlikely to lose more than 10 of the 31 parliamentary seats. And that too the losses will come from Chinese-based Sarawak United People’s Party, Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party and Parti Rakyat Sarawak. Less likely will it be from Taib’s own PBB.

So what then is compelling Taib to go to the “private” negotiation table? What cards will he pull and how will he keep “wanting” Umno away from Sarawak?

August 27, 2012

Why re-negotiate oil deal in private?

Filed under: Borneo Agenda,Taib Must Go — Pengayau @ 8:05 pm
Tags: , ,

 

Why re-negotiate oil deal in private?

 

KUCHING: Sarawak opposition has questioned the need for secrecy in the re-negotiations of the existing oil agreement with the federal government.

“I am curious to know as to why Chief Minister [Taib Mahmud] should think royalty negotiations are better done in private. Why is that so?” asked Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian.

Bian, who is a senior lawyer and Ba Kelalan assemblyman, said oil and gas issue was of public concern.

“The oil and gas in Sarawak is not the property of the chief minister – it belongs to all the people of Sarawak, hence we have a right to know what is being discussed.

“We want to know what the chief minister intends to do about it… we would like to remind him that he is a servant of the people and is accountable to them,” Bian said.

He pointed out that Sarawak has been lagging behind the Peninsula in every aspect including roads and infrastructure, education, healthcare, jobs, transport, industry and development.

“One could say that Peninsular Malaysia and many individuals have prospered or benefited via Petronas at our expense.

“Sarawakians now say kini masa balas budi to quote a line from the infamous Barisan Nasional Merdeka theme song 2012.

“The former prime minister (Dr Mahathir Mohamad), in a Freudian slip, had referred to the current administration as the ‘devil’ and the opposition as the ‘angel’. That in itself says it all.

“I trust that the rakyat are astute enough to judge for themselves whether to choose more of the same or to give themselves the hope of a better and brighter future with the Pakatan Rakyat,” he said.

Why now Taib?

Bian also questioned the timing of Taib’s decision to re-negotiate the 5% oil royalty, when he knew about the imbalance and unjust agreement these past 30 years.

“Of course, I welcome the announcement by the chief minister that he agrees that the royalty should be increased.

“But why is it only now that the chief minister is agreeing to pursue the matter? Why was he quiet for more than 30 years?”

Bian suggested that the current political climate and “a real possibility that the rakyat will vote them [Taib and BN] out” in the coming general election may have compelled Taib to address the issue.

“One can’t help but think that it is because this is an issue very close to the hearts of the people, an issue which Pakatan has promised to address.

“Obviously there has been no political will on the BN government’s part over the last 30 or so years to seek a fairer share of the royalty until now…,” said Bian.

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