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(File pix) Sarawak Pakatan Harapan has urged the state government to amend the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA). Archive image for illustration purposes only. Pix by Eizairi Shamsudin

KUCHING: Sarawak Pakatan Harapan has urged the state government to amend the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA).

Its chairman Chong Chieng Jen said if this was not done, the ownership and control of oil and gas industry in Sarawak would remain with Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas).

He said the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Abang Openg had refused to do so and insisted that PDA was irrelevant in Sarawak.

“He (Abang Johari) has been saying the PDA is irrelevant and claimed that the state has the full regulatory authority over the upstream and downstream aspects of the oil and gas industry, with the establishment of the Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros).

“He’s trying to confuse the people that we are already getting back our oil rights or the so-called devolution of power,” he said.

Chong, who is also the state DAP chairman and Member of Parliament of Stampin, said the state government should have challenged the validity of PDA in court, instead of through a mere public declaration to claim that the law was null and void.

In March, Abang Johari announced that with the establishment Petros, the state would assume full regulatory authority over the upstream and downstream aspects of the oil and gas industry in July, as part of the devolution of powers from the federal government.

On Monday, Petronas filed a court application, seeking a declaration from the Federal Court that the national oil manufacturer is the exclusive owner of petroleum resources and regulator for upstream activities in the country.

The application for leave made under Article 4(4) of the Federal Constitution will be heard on June 12 in Putrajaya.

“Since the issue has been brought to court, we will wait for the decision. Whatever (decision) it is, we will still keep our promise – to give 20 per cent of oil and gas royalty for Sarawak, as part of our election manifesto,” Chong said.

Meanwhile, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said the legal argument was on ownership, rather than royalty afforded to Sarawak, and therefore the step taken by Petronas should not be viewed as something negative.

“The application filed by Petronas doesn’t mean we are at a ‘disadvantage’ as we are confident with our rights.

“In fact, such move also brought us to a rightful platform to determine any interpretation of constitutionality. This is something the BN government should have but they did not do it,” he said

PH, he said, also pledged to form a Cabinet Committee to review legislations contrary to Malaysia Agreement 1963 and make the necessary amendments.

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