You got it all wrong!

(left) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali and (right) See Chee How

Hasidah tells See his claims on Sarawak-Petronas SST talks fallacious

KUCHING: Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali has refuted claims that the state government is negotiating on Petroliam Nasional Berhad’s (Petronas) payment of State Sales Tax (SST), describing such claims as ‘fallacious’ and ‘simply not true’.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday (July 15), the Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring) clarified that the ongoing negotiations under the joint committee were not about sales tax.

“Petronas must pay the SST as assessed according to and under our State Sales Tax Ordinance. That is non-negotiable as that is our constitutional right to impose SST,” she said.

She was referring to earlier statements by Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How, who on Tuesday (July 14) tendered his resignation from the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly’s (DUN) Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) Consultative Committee.

With his resignation, See had expressed his protest against the state government’s handling of negotiations with Petronas with regard to settling the SST owed by the latter.

Sharifah said, “We are now negotiating to reclaim regulatory role in oil mining, increase share of revenues from oil and gas produced in Sarawak, greater investment opportunities in downstream activities by the Sarawak government and Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros), more opportunities for Sarawakian companies in the oil and gas industry, plus greater and more secured supply of gas for industrial and commercial purposes to boost our industries.”

She added that negotiations were purely commercial in nature.

When contacted for further comments, Assistant Minister under Chief Minister’s Department (Corporate Affairs and Sarawak Public Communications Unit) Abdullah Saidol agreed with Sharifah that the assumption perceived by See was misconceived.

“It is unfortunate that See chose to resign from the MA63 Consultative Committee for no valid or reasonable reason. If he seriously cares about protecting Sarawak’s rights and interests, he should have remained in the committee to ensure that all relevant matters brought before the committee would be thoroughly deliberated,” he said.

He pointed out that the committee was unanimously endorsed by the DUN, and therefore he said that the committee and the locus standi of its members including See were legitimate and answerable to the DUN.

“If See deemed any matters relating to the process of the negotiation were vague or not correct, then he, being a member of the committee, has the legitimate right to raise his concerns and put his reservations on record,” he said, adding that if necessary and appropriate, See may even raise such concerns during the DUN sitting.

Abdullah said that he could only assume that See’s resignation had nothing to do with the process or substance of the negotiation with the federal government, but instead due to his own political conflict.

“Perhaps he is aware that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government is on the right track and will produce favourable results for Sarawak and he is trying to avoid such successful effort,” he said.

He said that with See’s resignation from the Consultative Committee, See could not deny that he had actually refused the opportunity given to him by the DUN, which basically represented the people of Sarawak from different political platforms in pursuing the state’s rights and interests.

He said that See seemed to be raising many concerns about protecting Sarawak’s rights and interests particularly with regard to oil and gas. “But why make so much noise now?” he questioned.

He noted that See and another Sarawakian leader had been in strong positions during the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration, and questioned what results they had contributed when they held such posts.

“If he wishes to talk about transparency, he should explain to all Sarawakians why he, being the Special Officer to the previous Minister of Works, had cancelled many federal-approved projects for Sarawak and how much effort they have made for Sarawak during the PH administration,” said Abdullah.