KUCHING: Veteran lawmaker Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar poured cold water on Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s idea to sell stakes in Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) to Sabah and Sarawak.
Wan Junaidi, a trained lawyer, views Petronas as a trustee to both Sabah and Sarawak’s oil and gas revenue under the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA74).
He said such is the case since the ‘forced acquisition’ of the state’s constitutional rights under the Federal Constitution, purportedly by an agreement of state leaders to allow the law (PDA74) to be enacted.
“Since this acquisition is under trust as I said earlier, to ask Sarawak and Sabah to purchase shares is like asking the owners to buy their own properties,” he told New Sarawak Tribune yesterday.
He took a jab at Petronas chief executive officer Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin who claimed that increasing the oil royalty paid to oil-and-gas producing states to 20 percent is not possible, as production costs are high and low-profit margins.
“Since the CEO of Petronas (Wan Zulkiflee) think that the margin of profits is not that good to pay Sarawak 20 percent royalty as promised by the Pakatan Harapan leaders before GE14, then Tun M (Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) might consider giving Petronas to Sarawak and Sabah to manage.
“Perhaps Sarawak and Sabah might want to give 5 percent gratis (compassionate money) to the federal government,” he said.
The former Natural Resources and Environment Minister said, however, if Putrajaya proposes to sell Petronas shares to others, Sarawak or Sabah or both might think of applying for an injunction.
“This is to stop the federal government from doing so before the legal and other federal government obligations to the two states are properly addressed to the satisfaction of Sarawak and Sabah.
On Tuesday, Dr Mahathir told Reuters that Putrajaya will consider selling Petronas stakes to the East Malaysian states, as the two states demand a bigger share of revenues from oil extracted in their territories.
He added that the federal government could not meet the states’ demand to increase the royalties paid by Petronas to 20 percent.
“Petronas is fully owned by the government, it’s up to the government to sell the shares privately not in the market, to states like Sabah and Sarawak,” Dr Mahathir said in an interview in his office.