KUCHING: The decision of Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) chief executive officer (CEO) Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin to leave the corporation was the right call, said Parti Aspirasi Rakyat Sarawak (Aspirasi) president Lina Soo.
She said the CEO should have quit sooner as the latter felt that increasing royalty payment to oil producing states of Sabah and Sarawak could make its operations in the East Malaysian states unfeasible.
“He should resign because his salary comes from Sarawak oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG), and for all that, he refuses to pay the five percent Sarawak Sales Tax (SST) of a meagre RM2 billion.
“Wan Zulkiflee had said in public that Sarawak had ‘no legal competence’ to demand the SST and had also opposed demands from Sarawak and Sabah for bigger royalty payments,” she said in a statement on Sunday.
Soo said that for the Petronas chief to quit over disagreement to pay RM2 billion to Sarawak for its SST when the bulk of Malaysia’s oil and LNG output is sourced from Sarawak is laughable.
“It is ludicrous that Petronas had no qualms paying royalty, dividends, corporate tax and extending cash bailouts to the federal government during its 44 years of existence.”
She noted that in 2018, Petronas paid an additional RM26 billion and in 2019, an additional RM30 billion was paid to the federal government.
She stressed that Sarawak had been producing oil from 1910, decades before the existence of the federation of Malaysia and Sarawak was capable of managing its own oil and gas.
“Sarawak’s oil and gas were usurped by the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) which is unconstitutional and not applicable to Sarawak as it violates Sarawak’s constitutional rights.
“Sarawak’s continental shelf belongs to Sarawak, along with all the oil and gas resources therein. Ownership and all economic rights over Sarawak oil and gas belong to Sarawak as the landowner,” she said.
Soo believed that Petronas should rightfully be treated as just any oil contractor — like Shell, Murphy, Exxon and that if it deems operating in Sarawak is infeasible, it could cease its operations.