KUCHING: Sarawak is disappointed that the Federal Court has postponed the hearing of Petronas' application for leave to start proceedings against the state government to June 21 over the country's petroleum resources.
Petronas has gone to court to declare that under the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA), it is the exclusive owner of the petroleum resources in the country, including Sarawak.
The state Attorney General's (SAG) legal team representing the state government was notified of the postponement by a Federal Court official by phone late Monday (June 11).
The Chief Minister's Office said the Federal Court agreed to the request by the Federal Attorney General for a postponement of the hearing, which had been scheduled for Tuesday (June 12), to enable him to consider whether the Federal Government should intervene in the case.
"The state government wishes to express its deep disappointment over the sudden postponement of the hearing of this case, particularly when Petronas, the Federal AG's Chambers and the Federal Court registrar had been informed by the SAG legal team that the state government objects to the application for adjournment," the Chief Minister's Office said in a statement on Monday.
It said the postponement was granted without giving the SAG legal team the courtesy of being heard on the state government's objection.
"Besides, all affidavits and submissions for the hearing have been delivered to the court in readiness for the hearing," it said.
The Chief Minister's Office also said it was "surprising" that Petronas, which made the application and sought an urgent hearing, did not object to the postponement.
It added that the state government would now have to consider "all other options" to protect and enforce Sarawak's constitutional rights in the matter.
"The state government will not allow Petronas to disrespect and disregard our rights to regulate the upstream activities under our laws such as the Oil Mining Ordinance and the Land Code," it said.
On June 4, Petronas filed an application to the Federal Court seeking a declaration that the PDA is the law applicable for the petroleum industry in Malaysia.
It also wants the declaration to state that Petronas is the exclusive owner of petroleum resources and the regulator for the upstream industry throughout Malaysia, including in Sarawak.