Sarawak's Oil Is Too Important For Hasty Rulings, So Why The Upset Abang Jo?

The Sarawak chief minister’s office, in a statement, said it was informed of the postponement of the suit pending a decision by the Attorney-General’s Chambers on whether the federal government should intervene.

“The Federal Court has acceded to the request by the federal attorney-general for a postponement of the hearing to enable him to consider whether the federal government ought to intervene in this case.

“It is surprising that Petronas which made the application and sought an urgent hearing thereof, has made no objection to the postponement of the hearing of the case,” he said.

Petronas had applied to the Federal Court for leave to commence proceedings against the Sarawak government, which hearing was to have taken place tomorrow. It will now take place on June 21.

Petronas wants a declaration from the Federal Court that it is the exclusive owner of petroleum resources and industry regulator throughout Malaysia, including Sarawak.

Our comment

Why does the Sarawak Chief Minister appear to be surprised and almost disappointed that the attempt by Petronas to apparently rush through a Federal Court judgement in favour of the highly dubious signing over of all of Sarawak’s oil has now been postponed?

Given that the move to get this ruling appeared to be little short of a legal mugging of his state administration, timed to be rushed through straight after the election and before a counter-case had been prepared, it ought to have been the Chief Minister at the forefront of the call to slow things down and not left to the newly appointed Attorney General Tommy Thomas.

Instead, the people of Sarawak have yet to hear a squeak from this PBB led state government about what its legal position on the case even is. So, does Abang Jo support the position of Petronas?  If he does not support it, why was he not the first to ask for more time to enable the state to adequately counter Petronas’s case?

There is also the not inconsequential matter of the as yet unreformed nature of the top judiciary.

This is an issue that is worth billions of ringgit to the public of Sarawak. It represents the difference between prosperity and poverty.  After all, for the last fifty years, under the auspices of the highly controversial and legally dubious present agreement, signed by the present Governor’s uncle, all the state’s oil revenue has gone to the federal purse, with virtually no benefits in terms of cash or development ploughed back into the state from whence the resource came.

Ought Abang Jo not be taking the opportunity to right this wrong, get more money for Sarawak and fight the best possible case against Petronas?  Or are the people to expect a similar backroom deal to the one inflicted by his predecessor, who chose back in 1974 to cosy up to KL instead?

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