Monday, June 9, 2008

Kuala Lumpur, Give Back Our Oil!

According to Oil & Gas Journal, Malaysia held a proven oil reserve of 3. 0 billion barrels as at January, 2007 and our oil reserves may only last us for another 20 years or so. Due to high prices of oil in the global market, the government and Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) are making lots of money.

In its financial year ending March 2007, Petronas achieved a record profit before tax of RM76.3 billion when crude oil in global market increased dramatically from under USD25 per barrel to above USD70 all within four years. Oil had made Petronas the only representative from Malaysia in the magazine Fortune 500. Due to huge profits caused by the increase of oil prices in global market, Petronas in 2007 contributed RM53.7 billion to our national coffers.

Oil revenues are of national secret and it seemed that only the Prime Minister could have access to the accounts the country could make from oil production. Taken into consideration that there are only three states in Malaysia that produces oil, that is, Sabah, Sarawak and Terangganu, it could be said that the east Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak could have contributed two-thirds of the country’s oil revenues since the passing of the Petroleum Development Act 1974, but, in return Sabah and Sarawak, each after the passing of the Act, could only get a paltry 5% of the oil money back.

Therefore, in the year 2007 Sabah and Sarawak contributed a whopping RM35.8 billion to the national coffers, but, poor Sabah and Sarawak could only got back for each state RM895 million.

The oil money had in the past years since 1974 helped West Malaysia, at the expense of Sabah and Sarawak, to become a more developed part of Malaysia with better airports, huge and tall skyscrapers, LRTs, fast lane highways and other infrastructures. The federal government could not deny that oil money from Sabah and Sarawak had not only stimulated the economy of West Malaysia, but, investments from the oil money through airports, seaports and other infrastructures had produced huge profits to federal coffers. West Malaysia had made enough from Sabah and Sarawak, and with that in mind, it is time that we should get back our oil.

Oil revenues from Sabah and Sarawak should no more be used to save sick government linked companies (GLCs), but, instead be used as medical funds for Sabahans and Sarawakians suffering from chronic diseases and for pension funds for senior citizens of these two east Malaysian states.

Therefore, I urge all politicians in Sabah and Sarawak, irrespective of either in the Opposition or in the BN to leave their political differences aside and not to lose sight of our own oil rights as oil in these two states belong to all of us Sabahans and Sarawakians. Sarawak People’s Organization (SAPO) under Raymond Szetu Mei Thong in 1978 Parliamentary Election had asked the State government to pursue the Federal Government to give back at least 50% of our oil revenue. Now, there is no reason for any politician or political party in the state to have asked for anything less than 100% of our oil back. This is because once our oil wells dries up, to give 100% back our oil would by that time be useless.

I regret that SNAP in its recent resolution passed by its Central Executive Committee (CEC) had only wanted the oil royalty to be increased to 20% (see The Borneo Post dated 8th June 2008)
The call by PKR of 20% of oil royalty to Sabah and Sarawak is also not acceptable. If Datuk Seri Anwar is sincere, he should call for the surrender back of our oil rights back and stop this legal plundering of our Sabah and Sarawak oil rights.

If all political parties and politicians in Sabah and Sarawak could work together to negotiate and demand our oil rights back, there is no reason why the federal government would not concede to our demand. After all, both states in almost every parliamentary election, contributed to about one third of all seats won by BN. This time around with the weak position of UMNO, both Sabah and Sarawak should work out a plan to step up pressure on the federal government to give back our oil and gas rights.

We must also not forget that we in Sabah and Sarawak had been paying dearer prices of petrol and diesel than those in West Malaysia before the prices were streamlined recently.

Since Malaysia is an oil producing country, the government should instead of comparing prices of petrol and diesel with non oil producing countries like Singapore, should have the political courage to compare the price hike with oil producing countries in the Middle East, in Africa and in South America.

In a recent statement, Opposition leader, Datin Seri Dr.Wan Azizah Wan Ismail disclosed that petrol per liter in Egypt is RM1.03, Kuwait 67 sen, Saudi Arabia 38sen, Nigeria 32 sen and Venenzula 16 sen while petrol in Malaysia now has rocketed to RM2.70 per liter.

I met the Consul of Brunei in early March 2008 and at that time I was told petrol in Brunei was B$ 0. 57 per liter, that is, RM1.38. Now price of petrol in Brunei decreased to B$0.51, that is, RM1. 24. If Brunei could decrease its prices of its oil when oil at world market increased, there is no reason why Malaysia could not do so. Instead, Malaysian government chocked our throats each time oil at world market goes up and told Malaysians that this was global factor in which every country including Malaysia were helpless.

Diesel per litre in early March, 2008 was B$0.37, that is, RM1.38 and now decreased to B$B$0.31, that is, RM0.75.

In Kuching, a tin of Coca-Cola is priced at RM1.80 while a piece of roti canai is RM1.60. This shows that these oil producing countries are enjoying petrol much cheaper than a tin of Coca-Cola or a piece of roti canai at the Indian stall! Their oil is also cheaper than our car parking fees, nasi lemak and mee jawa or kolo-mee!
Now, like all Malaysians, I have to miss many mornings for my favorite roti canai and kolo-mee so as to save for subsidizing petrol to my car.

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