KUALA LUMPUR: The government has dismissed a viral message alleging Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has collateralised oil and gas blocks off Sabah to China in exchange for a RM100 billion loan, calling it absolute lies.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the message, supposedly warning Sabahans, MPs and assemblymen about the Trans Sabah Gas Pipeline (TSGP), was perpetrated by irresponsible parties who would benefit from people's anger and distrust towards the Federal and state governments.
"The owner-cum-developer of the TSGP is Suria Strategic Energy Resources Sdn Bhd (SSER), a company wholly owned by the Finance Ministry, while the China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau (CPP) is the project’s engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) contractor," said Rahman in a press statement.
He said while the project will be funded by a soft loan from the Export and Import (EXIM) Bank of China, there was no truth in allegations that the loan amount would be RM100 billion and oil and gas blocks off Sabah were collateralised to China in order to secure the loan.
"The loan amount was RM4.53 billion which constitutes the total cost of the project and it would be guaranteed by the Federal Government. With the guarantee in place, there's no need for SSER to collateralise any Malaysian oil and gas block to the Chinese," said Rahman.
Rahman explained that land matters are strictly under state's jurisdiction.
"Without engagement and cooperation between the Sabah state government and the Federal Government, the project could not proceed," he said, debunking the claim that the Sabah state government was not consulted or involved in the project.
"Materials, equipment and labour to build the pipeline are sourced from local and foreign suppliers, similar to other infrastructure projects such as the MRT and ECRL.
"With this key energy infrastructure project, Sabah will be able to move up the value chain and add value to local commodities and raw materials, thus reducing the state’s dependency on primary industries, create employment for the people throughout the state, and increase their income level," said Rahman.
On the Labuan-Menubok Bridge, Rahman explained that the project has been identified by the government as a key enabler to spur the future economic development of Labuan and its surrounding regions.
"Being strategically placed, this will leverage on Labuan's current position as a global and regional centre for international business and finance, and is in line with the government’s aspiration to develop Labuan into a smart and sustainable island city with a well-diversified economy by 2030," said Rahman.
The government, he added, has approved the proposed Labuan-Menumbok Bridge project and set aside RM14.31 million in the 2018 Budget to carry out a Techno-Economic Feasibility Study.
"This is critical to determine the technical feasibility and address the financial and economic appraisal of the project. The study will involve comprehensive data collection and engineering studies to develop the technical concept for the project," he said.