Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem has insisted that Sarawakians be given priority of employment by Petronas in its operations in the State.
In his first public statement on the controversy surrounding Petronas’ recruitment policies in Sarawak, he defended the state’s stand to issue a moratorium on work permit applications for Petronas personnel from outside the state as necessary to ensure fairness to Sarawakians.
He warned that the State government might even cancel work permits already approved.
“Now we are putting a freeze on work permit of Petronas personnel from outside Sarawak. We have always insisted that Sarawakians be given priority. If you (Petronas) don’t do that, we’ll freeze your work permits.
“The next step is if that doesn’t work, we’ll cancel the work permits already given and replace it with our own. But we will do that step by step. We won’t do it altogether. And we want the royalty to be increased from 5 per cent to more than 5 per cent,” he said at a dinner with Anak-Anak Sarawak here on Friday.
The issue of Petronas’ preference for Peninsular Malaysians over Sarawakians for jobs in the state has been widely highlighted in the media of late.
It was recently announced that Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah and State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohd Morshidi Abdul Ghani will meet with Petronas tomorrow (Monday) in Kuching to discuss the corporation’s recruitment and retrenchment practices affecting Sarawakians.
The issue was raised when Suarah Petroleum Group (SPG) revealed that in a restructuring process, Petronas had abolished 29 permanent positions which resulted in the retrenchment of 13 experienced staff from Sarawak.
Since then, leaders across the political divide have urged the state government to act fast to stop workers from other states working here, prompting Uggah to issue a statement that a moratorium would be imposed with immediate effect on all new applications for work permits by Petronas personnel from outside Sarawak intending to work here.
In response, Petronas on Tuesday issued a statement asserting its stand on hiring practices and that the decision to impose a moratorium was based on “the wrong perception that its recent group-wide business restructuring had unfairly impacted its employees from Sarawak”.
Petronas’ operations in Sarawak are mainly based in Miri and Bintulu, where offshore oil and gas sources can be found.
Meanwhile, in response to Adenan’s stark warning to Petronas, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing said it reflected the growing frustration of Sarawakians over the corporation’s recruitment policies in the State.
He emphasised that Sarawakians have watched and waited long enough in hopes that Petronas and Putrajaya would make things right by prioritising Sarawakians in operations in the State.
“The chief minister’s warning last night (Friday) in Johor shows that he has run out of patience on Petronas’ treatment of the local workforce over the years,” he said.
“We hope they can do the right thing for Sarawakians in terms of employment and business opportunities in Petronas.”
Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation, expressed deep disappointment that Petronas had failed to meet these expectations.
He gave his full support to Adenan’s decision on exercising immigration power to ensure Petronas and Putrajaya are aware that the state is serious about freezing the work permits of personnel from outside Sarawak.
“Sarawak will stand firm on this decision if Petronas insists on being stubborn and turns a deaf ear to our plea!” he said.
“This is the last straw! What Sarawak is doing is within what was agreed in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 … no more and no less.”
In urging Petronas to act in the spirit of a “responsible national corporation”, he added, “Be reasonable and above all else, be fair to those whose resources you are exploiting!”
Adenan also took the opportunity to congratulate Sarawakian diving queen Pandelela Rinong for winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics.
“She has won bronze, silver and hopefully the next one is gold in the Olympics. We are proud of her as an Anak Sarawak,” he said of Pandelela, who clinched the medal together with Perak-born Cheong Jun Hoong in the women’s synchronised 10-metre platform event on Tuesday.
Pandelela – who was Malaysia’s first woman Olympic medallist in London four years ago – will face the women’s individual 10-metre platform on Thursday.
In 2012, she won a bronze for the event.
Samuel Aubrey, email@example.com