KUCHING: Petronas chief executive officer Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin’s resignation recently due to his disagreement with Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin over the plan to pay RM2 billion in sales tax to Sarawak shows that the latter did not know the Malaysian Agreement 1963 and had failed to acknowledge it, said Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang.
“Wan Zulkiflee had said in public that Sarawak had no legal competence to demand the sales tax. He had also said that increasing royalties could make operating in Sabah and Sarawak unfeasible.
“Need I remind him that in 2018, Petronas raised its dividend payment to the federal government by 50 percent to RM24 billion and then paid an additional special dividend of RM30 billion to the federal government in 2019? That is a total pay-out of RM54 billion in 2019 when Pakatan Harapan (PH) was in government.
“He, as CEO then, had no qualms about handing that over but is suddenly struck with a bad conscience when he has to hand over just RM2 billion to Sarawak in sales tax, to a state which lacks piped water and which not only produces a major bulk of the nation’s wealth in oil and gas but is also responsible for his income and that of his many colleagues for the past 37 years because if there were no Sabah and Sarawak, there would be no Petronas,” he said in a statement on Monday (June 22).
Lo said it was regrettable that the top Petronas boss did not want to acknowledge that without Sabah and Sarawak, there would be no Malaysia.
“We formed Malaysia together on Sept 16, 1963. It is not we joined Malaysia. This is part of history that all Malaysians should know and understand and if you want to talk about principles, honesty and integrity,” he said.
Lo pointed out that Sabah and Sarawak, being rich in resources, should be enjoying reasonable if not equally good highways and infrastructure like Malaya.
“Contrary to all that, there are still parts of Sarawak without basic water and electricity supply or internet connection. There was even a female student in Sabah who had to spend a night on top of a tree to take an exam online due to poor internet connection. It is the same in Sarawak with some in the interior having to climb hills to get connection on their mobile phones.
“This is indeed outrageous, considering the fact that about 68 percent of the nation’s oil comes from Sabah and Sarawak and 61 percent of the nation’s natural gas resources come from Sarawak alone,” he said.
Lo said therefore, it was heartening to see that the new government led by Muhiydiin was open to honouring the spirit of MA63, the true intent and aspiration of Malaysia as envisaged by the Father of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman.
“Tunku Abdul Rahman once said when the Borneo territories became part of Malaysia, they would cease to be a colony of Britain, and they would not be a colony of Malaya. I thought I had made it clear. They will be partners of equal status, no more and no less than the other States now forming the Federation of Malaya,” he said.
Lo added Muhyiddin was honouring his promises to Sarawak.
“Had we still been under PH, it would still not only be dishonouring MA63, it would still be directing Petronas to take Sarawak to court.
“GPS will not support a government that does not put the King, nation and its people first. We are kingmakers, not kataks (frogs),” said Lo.