SARAWAK Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg said today the Petroleum Development Act 1974 and the Territorial Sea Act 2012 that took away the state’s rights over its oil and gas, are null and void.
“Any law that is ultra-vires of the Federal Constitution … under Article 4 of the constitution, is void,” he said when asked about his announcement on Tuesday that the state has regained its right over all oil and gas up to 300 miles off shore.
Abang Johari said the two laws are “not relevant” and he leaves it to Putrajaya to repeal them.
“I’m just exercising our rights,” he said after declaring open a seminar on the development of coastal roads.
The Petroleum Development Act 1974, better known as PDA, gave Petronas absolute ownership and the exclusive rights, powers, liberties and privileges to the exploration and exploitation petroleum resources onshore or offshore in the country.
The Territorial Sea Act 2012, or often referred to as TSA, reduced the state’s sea boundary and territorial jurisdiction from 12 miles to a 3 nautical miles off shore, an act which Sarawakians have longed accused the federal government of using to plunder the state’s oil and gas resources.
Deputy Chief Minister James Masing said TSA was not valid in Sarawak as it had never been endorsed by the state legislature.
“For federal laws to be implemented here, (they) must be endorsed by the state legislative assembly.
“We have not endorsed it (TSA),” he said.
The chief minister had also said with the rights over the two key mineral resources back with the state, it will assume full regulatory authority over the upstream and downstream aspects of the oil and gas industry by July.
This meant all persons and companies who are or who wished to be involved in the oil and gas industry in the state must comply with either the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 or the Gas Distribution Ordinance 2016 by having the necessary licences, permits, leases and approvals from the state government.
Abang Johari, however, gave the assurance the enforcement of the state laws would not jeopardise the interests or investments of Petronas and other companies already involved in the oil and gas industry in Sarawak.
He made it clear their business and operational activities must be aligned with the state laws and regulations.
The chief minister said Sarawak had exercised its rights over its oil since 1920, when the state’s last white Rajah, Charles Vyner Brooke, issued “the Shell Concession Order” to designate the area in Miri for the exploration and mining of Oil by Sarawak Oilfield Limited – which was owned by Shell.
The chief minister said those laws have never been repealed even after Sarawak agreed to the formation of Malaysia and the rights were written into the Federal Constitution under Item 2 (c) of the state list under the Ninth Schedule. – March 8, 2018.