Datuk Gerawat Gala

KUCHING: There is nothing final in the understanding reached between Sarawak and Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), said State Legislative Assembly (DUN) deputy speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala.

He said the final agreement is still subject to the withdrawal of the appeal filed by Petronas in the Court of Appeal against the High Court’s ruling in their previous case.

“Also, the withdrawal of the civil suit by the Sarawak against Petronas for the recovery of the State Sales Tax (SST) and finalisation of the terms for the withdrawal of Petronas’ appeal as the parties are still negotiating the terms for withdrawal of the appeal.

“Additionally, it hinges on the agreement being reached between Petronas and the state on the other terms related to the settlement agreement i.e. participation of the Sarawak in the oil and gas operations and business in statewide.

“The rakyat must know and understand that the said joint statement is not final; said joint statement only sets out the points of understanding as a basis for negotiating the final terms of agreement with Petronas.

“Assuming both parties can come to a final agreement,” he said in a statement issued yesterday.

He was responding to statements issued by the opposition and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that the state government has signed its rights away to the corporation with the agreement.

“Sarawak has not sold or given up its right over its oil and gas rights in exchange for Petronas agreement to pay 5 (five) percent SST for 2019 amounting to RM2 bil.

“If the penalty on late payment by Petronas and the SST paid by the other oil companies like Shell, Murphy, Nippon and other operators, are included the total amount of SST in 2019, it is much more than the RM2bil mentioned in the said joint statement,” he said.

Gerawat said Sarawak is not questioning the validity of Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) which itself is a law duly passed by Parliament, but rather, its applicability to Sarawak.

“As this issue has been a long-standing controversy and attracted a lot of public interest and so many different views and opinions having been expressed by various parties, I would suggest for this issue to be put to rest once and for all by referring the issue to the Federal Court,” he said.

He stressed that any purported agreement by the state to accept the PDA and the related Petroleum agreements will not be valid or legally binding if it is to be declared by the court to be unconstitutional and not applicable to Sarawak.

“It is in the interest of both the state and Petronas to refer the PDA to the Federal Court for a final decision to put to rest all controversies regarding the applicability of the PDA to Sarawak,” he said.