SERIAN: It should not be a problem for the state government team to lead negotiations at the federal level, said Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
He was replying to Bukit Assek assemblywoman, Irene Chang who said that Abdul Karim, who as the chairman of the Malaysian Agreement 1963 (MA63) Consultative Committee negotiating team, should have insisted on full participation in negotiating oil and gas matters.
Abdul Karim said the state government’s separation of powers was divided into three branches, namely legislature, executive and judiciary.
“And it is not only people in the legislature who are able to become negotiators.
“The executives manage the state or federal government and they are the ones that get the ball rolling.
“I’m not saying that we totally push the legislature aside,” he said when met by reporters on Sunday (Sept 13).
Abdul Karim pointed out that the legislature was also limited to its tenure which would be dissolved in a few months’ time.
“What happens to the consultative team then?
“That is why if there are already negotiations going in the right direction by the executives, who comprise people who are also in the legislature, just let it be.
“Things are moving in the right direction and we are getting what we want,” he assured.
He added that the state was always able to express its feelings on things that it felt were “not there yet” and add them to the requests that had not been fulfilled by the federal government.
“But the main ones, the rights on oil and gas, are being given back to us slowly.
“We have to be grateful. Because we are living in a big nation, we cannot say that all the oil and gas in Sarawak are only meant for Sarawakians. No.
“If that’s the way we look at things, then the federal government can say the same to us on things such as the army and police which belong to the federal government.
“Things like that, we have to share in the spirit of sharing,” he added.
Abdul Karim said the change in federal government last March had also strengthened the bonds between the state and federal government. A committee had been formed at the federal level with negotiations led by Senior Minister for Infrastructure Development and Works Minister, Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof and Finance Minister, Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz.
“That reflects things are moving in the right direction,” said Abdul Karim.