Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan

KUCHING: The ongoing negotiations between Sarawak, Putrajaya and Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) are conducted with due recognition to the rights of the state under the Federal Constitution.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan stressed that the negotiations were to attain the Sarawak government’s objectives without going through the legal process.

“In the event that any legal or constitutional issues should arise, these would be referred to the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Consultative Committee on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) for deliberation,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He was responding to an earlier statement from Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How who viewed that the Sarawak negotiating team acted outside the purview of the state legislature’s Consultative Committee.

See, who was a member of the committee, tendered his resignation on Tuesday in protest against what he claimed as lack of transparency in Sarawak’s negotiation with Petronas and Putrajaya for the State Sales Tax (SST) settlement.

Awang Tengah, who is the state’s chief negotiator, refuted the allegation, saying that the ongoing negotiation was for all parties — Sarawak, Putrajaya and Petronas to reach a commercial agreement on oil and gas matters.

“It is fallacious for See to say that the negotiations are about the SST. The stand taken by the government on the SST is firm and remains unmoved from the day the SST was imposed by the state.

“Petronas will have to pay the SST in accordance with the law. Both the federal government and Petronas have accepted this stand and have committed to pay the SST.

“Towards this end, Petronas has also undertaken to withdraw its appeal to the Court of Appeal on this matter,” he said.

The deputy chief minister said the negotiations now were focused on allowing Sarawak to reclaim its regulatory role in oil mining in the state and increase its share of revenues from oil and gas produced.

“This is as well as to obtain greater investment opportunities in downstream business, such as in the LNG (liquefied natural gas) plants in Bintulu, by the state government and Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros).”

Awang Tengah said, by doing this, it would ensure more opportunities for Sarawakian companies in the oil and gas industry and guarantee a greater allocation along with secured supply of gas.

“This is to meet the gas requirement of the state in line with a gas master plan which is currently under preparation as well as to grow the gas business in Sarawak,” he said.