Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sultan’s act could bring new twist in oil royalty dispute

WAN SAIFUL: Agreement is for federal govt to pay to state govt

THE Sultan of Kelantan throwing his hat into the fray of the eight-year-old oil royalty dispute between the PAS-run state government and the federal government is bound to be a game changer.

Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders approached by The Malay Mail were already feeling the discomfort as they chose not to comment on the actions of Sultan Muhammad V in signing a plaque declaring his support for the return of oil royalty payments to the state.

Umno’s Kuala Balah assemblyman Datuk Abdul Aziz Derashid — the only one who spoke on record — refused to touch on the Sultan’s public show of support at the Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium in Kota Baru on Tuesday.

He instead said the issue was pending at the Kuala Lumpur High Court where the civil suit between Kelantan and Petronas began hearing on June 1.

“We will let the courts decide, anything else could be sub judice,” said the lawyer.

Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) CEO Wan Saiful Wan Jan said the royalty’s decision to come out in open in a show of support would prompt a rethink from the federal government.

“Hopefully, with the involvement of royalty, the government would reconsider its stance on the matter,” he said.

He urged the federal government and Petronas to stop politicising the issue and “pay up” he RM1 billion demanded by the state government.

He said the federal government should honour Act 114 of the Petroleum Development Act that was signed in 1974 between all states and the federal government, which entitles Kelantan to earn oil royalty from 2004.

“It is as simple as someone having made a promise to someone else. But the problem is the issue has been politicised,” he said.

He also rebuked suggestions that the federal government could pay the oil royalty money through other means — such as federal bodies — and not to the state government if it’s not confident of the state leadership.

“The federal government has no business in judging the suitability of a state government.

The agreement is for federal to pay the money to the state government of the day. The Kelantan people will decide who’s their state government,” he said.

PAS vice-president Datuk Husam Musa said that the state is thankful to the sultan’s support and reiterated that royalty have always been supportive of the state’s demands.

“We will continue with our demands and we will continue working hard,” he said, adding that former Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) deputy president Tan Sri Annuar Musa, an Umno member, had also signed a memorandum supportive of the state’s efforts during a football match at Bukit Jalil back in April.

Husam said that the state is also up in arms over Petronas’ refusal to land a gas pipe line in Kelantan although gas is being extracted in Kelantan waters.

“These are purely Kelantan waters. But (Petronas) is landing the gas in Terengganu instead.

They told us that landing it in our shores would mean high carbon content,” he said, adding that gas lines in Kelantan would spur the petrochemical industry in the state.

PAS’s Chairman of International Affairs Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi assured that the state would be responsible in using the oil royalty money for the benefit of the Kelantanese people — which is what the sultan wants.

“If we get the money, we can build a highway from Kota Baru straight to Kuala Lumpur.”

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