Abang Johari said that the coexistence of the two laws serve as a crucial role in the development of oil resources not only in Sarawak but the whole nation. – Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING (Sept 16): Sarawak’s Oil and Mining Ordinance (OMO) 1958 and Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA 1974) should co-exist in the spirit of the Federation of Malaysia, said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said that the coexistence of the two laws serve as a crucial role in the development of oil resources not only in Sarawak but the whole nation.

According to him, the state’s oil mining ordinance had never been repealed to make way for the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA 1974).

He said in fact, the state’s oil mining law had been established way before the formation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963.

“The OMO 1958 has existed before the establishment of Malaysia which was enacted in 1958. It will continue to exist to control the development of oil resources in Sarawak.

“The OMO 1958 and PDA 1974 should co-exist in the spirit of our partnership for the interests of the state as well as the nation. If Sarawak and Sabah are prosperous, Malaysia is also prosperous,” he said during the national-level Malaysia Day celebration at Stadium Perpaduan here tonight.

He also played down concerns that Sarawak’s efforts to gain some measure of autonomy from the federal government were demanding.

Citing the Commercial Settlement Agreement (CSA) as an example, he  pointed out the coexistence of the two oil and gas mining laws from both federal and state as a measure that assures Sarawak’s territory would always be protected.

Abang Johari also said  while Sarawak may be seen as being too vocal in voicing out its demand, the call only functioned as a reminder of how the nation was founded based on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Abang Johari further explained that though the federal government holds certain powers, and likewise for the state government, there must be cooperation and collaboration between the two so that development can be carried out smoothly.

He also stressed that Sarawak is only voicing its demand for MA63 to be upheld and for development on par with its brothers in the peninsula.

“Sarawak may be accused of being regional with those demands but the people of Sarawak only want the rights of Sarawak and have no intention of usurping the rights of others.

“However, the division of powers does not mean that the Federation and the States cannot work together for common interests. Relations between federal and state governments shall be based on the highest law of the country.

“For example, cooperation between Sarawak and Petronas through the Settlement Agreement Commercially (CSA) has opened a space for cooperation between the two parties that benefits the country as well as Sarawak.

“The GPS government in Sarawak is grateful to the federal government for showing its willingness to restore the rights of Sarawak and Sabah, as provided for in the Constitution Federation and MA63 which has eroded,” he said, adding that Sarawak is always open to such cooperation for the benefit of all.

Abang Johari also acknowledged that Sarawak’s demand for greater autonomy could cause disputes and uneasy relationships.

However, he believes that  this is the only way that allows greater levels of integration between Sabah and Sarawak and the federal government.

“The Constitution has determined the matters under the jurisdiction of the Federal (Federal List), the jurisdiction of the state (State List) and joint jurisdiction (Concurrent List).

“But the power of the federal party can also be devolved to the state administratively to facilitate development at the state level.

“For example, the delegation of authority to implement projects of low value of the recent RM50 million and the recognition of the State JKR and the State Irrigation and Drainage Department as Technical Departments so that they can implement projects infrastructure and public facilities more smoothly and quickly,” he added.

He also cited the formation of the unity government as an example that has proved Sarawak’s demand does not affect the spirit of nationalism.

“The establishment of the unity government is proof that differences are not an obstacle towards unity.

“We also must not waste His Majesty the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Bilah Shah’s hope to bring people together so that we can continue to build our beloved country Malaysia,” he said.