PKR Sarawak fully supports the state government’s move to freeze with immediate effect all work permit applications from Petronas to bring in outsiders when there are qualified Sarawakians for the job.
Its vice chairman, Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How, however, said the move should not be limited to new work permits.
“It should also cover renewal of work permits of Petronas staff members who are non-Sarawakians,” he said in a press statement yesterday.
See opined that the moratorium on the issuance of work permits should not just be to demand Petronas to be fair and transparent regarding its operations in the state.
“It should be one of the first steps by the state to demand for the rights and interests of Sarawak in the development of our natural resources as a corporate partner.”
See said for more than 40 years, Sarawakians had left it to Petronas to exclusively plan and decide on the exploitation and development of their petroleum resources, in return for royalty that had been inadequate.
Petronas is wholly-owned by the federal government, and none of the oil producing states in Malaysia has any shareholding in the national corporation.
“Hence, we should take actions to protect the employment opportunities of Sarawakians. We should also look at how best we can participate and benefit from the development of our state’s natural resources.”
See said with the revocation of the Emergency Orders and the Territorial Sea Act 2012, which is void for unconstitutionality, Sarawak is now in full control over all the natural resources within its territorial boundary.
“We have the trump card and all the leverage to demand all the rights and entitlements that are ours, as determined by the founding fathers in this country.”
While Petronas might send some of its officials to meet Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas on the issue of work permits, See said the state should not make any concession piecemeal.
“(Instead), the state should demand that the federal government meet with the state government to renegotiate and agree on the new arrangements to jointly develop petroleum resources in Sarawak.”
See suggested that negotiation and agreement be reached on the following matters:
• The terms and conditions of the tripartite Petroleum Development Agreement between the state government, the federal government, and Petronas should be revisited and negotiated anew;
• Sarawak should be the ultimate decision-maker in determining the shares of equity and direct participation of Sarawak state corporations in the new production sharing contracts (PSCs), which are involved in the production and development of oil and gas and related products in Sarawak;
• Sarawak should be the equity shareholders and Sarawak state-owned corporations should be a partner in existing PSCs, which are coming up for extension; and
• Petronas should immediately set up a branch campus of its Universiti Teknologi Petronas (Petronas Technology University) in Sarawak to ensure that more and better opportunities are given to Sarawakians for the pursuit of knowledge and expertise for the advancement of engineering, science and technology in the oil and gas industry.
See said the state government must now seize the opportunity to turn the state from a passive recipient of petroleum royalty to a serious participant in the oil and gas industry to ensure that the state could best utilise its natural resources to develop the state, independent of federal allocations.
“Being the decision-maker in determining the development of our natural resources will also allow the state to conserve our depletable and exhaustible natural resources and to ensure that it is sustainable for the benefits of our future generations.”
Jonathan Chia, firstname.lastname@example.org