Batu Lintang rep quits S'wak consultative committee over handling of Petronas sales tax negotiations

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 14 Jul 2020

KUCHING: Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How (pic) has resigned from the Sarawak Legislative Assembly's consultative committee in protest over the state government's handling of negotiations with Petronas to settle the state's sales tax owed by the national oil corporation.

He tendered his resignation on Tuesday (July 14) with immediate effect.

See is from Parti Sarawak Bersatu, which is not part of Gabungan Parti Sarawak, the coalition ruling the Sarawak state government.

According to See, the state government had acted outside the purview of the state legislative assembly and the consultative committee by exercising its executive power to negotiate with the Federal Government and Petronas.

He said the consultative committee appointed a negotiating team on June 10 to participate in the negotiations with Petronas and the Federal Government so that it could better advise the state legislative assembly on the issue.

"Until today, members of the negotiating team, including myself, have yet to meet them. Neither have we met with the working committee appointed by the state government, nor been invited to make representations to the working committee.

"Yet a joint committee said to consist of members of the Sarawak government, Federal Government and Petronas are already in the midst of negotiating the finer details of the terms and conditions for the settlement and agreement between Sarawak and Petronas," See told a press conference at his service centre here Tuesday (July 14).

He said it was "untenable" for him to remain a member of the consultative committee and its negotiating team as its role had been ignored by the exercise of executive power.

"It would be an affront to my public office as a member of the state legislative assembly and the consultative committee," he said.

See also said it appeared that Sarawak was repeating the mistake made in 1975 when the exercise of executive power by the chief minister, at that time, divested the state's ownership of petroleum resources to Petronas after the enactment of the Petroleum Development Act 1974.

"By being conducted outside the purview of the state legislative assembly and the consultative committee, the (negotiation) process is no longer transparent and is in danger of being labelled unauthorised, illegitimate and improper.

"This is no longer 1975. It will not take another 45 years for the state legislative assembly and Sarawakians to be enraged by any unauthorised, illegitimate and improper conduct of executive power.

"I would expect the next sitting of the state assembly to question, invalidate and nullify the use of such executive power to negotiate a settlement and agreement with Petronas," he added.

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