A man who has made up his mind on a given subject twenty-five years ago and continues to hold his political opinions after he has been proved to be wrong is a man of principle; while he who from time to time adapts his opinions to the changing circumstances of life is an opportunist.

– A P Herbert, English humorist, novelist, playwright and law reform activist

I have to admit, I was rather fixated at the development on the amicable settlement between national oil and gas company Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) and the state government.

In a comprehensive press statement last week, as it was broken down to us, the corporation along with Sarawak said it is seeking to bury their hatchet and move on.

Petronas, it said, also agreed to three things. First, they agreed to pay the State Sales Tax (SST) owed to Sarawak to a cool RM2 billion; secondly, they agreed to drop their appeal to the High Court against the state and lastly, recognise the laws in effect within these shores.

So, all good here — open and shut right? Or so I thought.

Apparently, a single paragraph in the statement struck the nerves of a select few. Not to say that they shouldn’t be, but I feel that this is a familiar case of making a mountain out of a molehill.

You see, in the third last paragraph of the statement, it said “all instrument and agreement that has been agreed by the Sarawak state government and Petronas under Petroleum Development Act (PDA) 1974, is valid and in force”.

Of course, naturally, the opposition used it as a stick to beat the state government with, but then again, a reasonably thinking person would stop to question, as to whether the allegation such brandishing it as a “sellout” even holds water.

The state government has been clear on its position regarding PDA74; as a senior state leader would tell me that the PDA74 was brought to Parliament without the “constitutionally adequate and acceptable consent” of Sarawak.

He posited that PDA74 is validated by the Emergency (Essential Powers) Act 1979 which itself is no longer valid after emergency legislations were abolished in 2011.

We are not conceding any of our state rights, which these opposition leaders and so-called non-government organisations (NGOs) would have you believe.

Petronas declared that it will reconise Sarawak’s laws — part of the laws said they have to abide to the state’s Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO) 1958.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg hit the nail on the head when pressed on the issue on Thursday, “No, (we are not surrendering our rights). They (the opposition) don’t understand. We are looking to get a new arrangement,” he said.

Yes. There you have it. If I were to interpret all of this, I wouldn’t say “they don’t understand”, I’d say: “They don’t want to understand”.

You see, because that is exactly what they are doing. Amid the pandemic and all of the efforts being done by the authorities to ease the plight of people during this difficult time, they saw it fit to play politics.

Let’s stop for a moment and think; what are these people doing to contribute amidst the pandemic? None.

They wake up in the morning and issue press statements to attack the state government for their purported shortcomings in handling the pandemic while ironically sitting still in whatever fortress they have and doing absolutely nothing.

The people should know better now rather than lend their support to these charlatans — who apparently proritise self-gratification for themselves, their supporters and scoring political points above all else.

On for the “new arrangement” the chief minister is talking about; we are getting that. We are finally getting a chance to dictate our terms rather than begging for what is rightly ours.

A committee is being set up, jointly chaired by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof and Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz to negotiate terms where both sides can agree to and hopefully, it will bear fruit.

We will get a fair deal, especially now that when Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) has neither declared itself to be part of Perikatan Nasional (PN) nor subservient to leaders in Malaya.

The rights to oil and gas in this case, to sum it up in a word is a zero-sum game, where one can win by only causing the other side to lose.

It doesn’t have to be like that.Petronas and Sarawak can stand to benefit from one another, particularly in the situation that the industry is in.

GPS holds all the cards to the survival of PN, it too can retract its support when push comes to shove; a fact that the federal government realises and is working hard to prevent from happening.

A fair deal is what Sarawak deserves, nothing less.