KOTA KINABALU, Dec 11 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s recent suggestion of “selling” stakes in Petronas to oil producing states in Malaysia is a misguided attempt to raise money for the federal government and will potential set back the Warisan state government in the coming Kimanis by-election, said a DAP state leader here today.
DAP Sabah secretary Chan Foong Hin expressed his worry that the suggestion would backfire if misinterpreted by the people, especially as the state was preparing to head into the by-election.
“It is not right to raise funds for the federal government by way of selling Petronas shares to the state government. I believe that the Prime Minister, in his infinite wisdom, would be able to come up with many other creative ways to raise funds needed to settle federal debts,” said Chan.
Chan was referring to Dr Mahathir’s reply at an interview with Reuters on Tuesday where he said that the Malaysian government was considering selling stakes in Petronas to states where the company’s oil and gas fields are, which would include Sabah.
The statement had raised eyebrows with some Sabah leaders saying it would be foolish for Sabah to pay for what was rightfully theirs.
“It would be good if Tun, as the coalition leader of Pakatan Harapan could consult with the Warisan-led Sabah state government before making any statements that may be easily misconstrued,” said Chan.
Chan said he believes that the prime minister was trying to suggest fulfilling Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto promise of paying 20 per cent petroleum royalty or its equivalent to Sabah and Sarawak by way of transferring part of the federal government’s ownership in Petronas to the states.
“I would welcome it if Tun M intends to fulfill the promise of paying the 20 per cent oil royalty as stated in the PH election manifesto by way of transferring shares in Petronas to the state for Sabah. If so, Sabah state government should pay only a token of RM1 at most for the transfer of the shares in Petronas to them,” said Chan.
Chan said that the amount of Petronas shares to be offered to the state as alternative to the 20 per cent oil royalty has to be at least equivalent to the percentage of petroleum produced by the state in the country.
“In fact it would be best if the dividend payable yearly by the Petronas shares to be transferred to the state government would be able to cover for the 20 per cent royalty payment,” said Chan.
He also said he could not understand why the federal government kept on claiming that they could not settle the 20 per cent oil royalty as promised, when it could just be put into a trust account.
Chan said that as at to date there are only four issues pending at the special Cabinet Committee on the review of the implementation of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and that these four are: oil royalty issues and petroleum cash payments; oil minerals and oil fields; Territorial Sea Act 2012; and state rights over the continental shelf.