KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal has urged the Sabah government to continue pursuing shareholding equity in national oil and gas company Petronas instead of the 20% oil royalty.
The former chief minister said this was something that had been agreed by the Federal Government when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was helming the country.
“So I suggest this (discussion) be continued with the (current) Federal Government, as Dr Mahathir had in principle agreed with me to convert the 20% royalty claims to shareholding instead.
“Once Sabah obtain shares, then Petronas just needs to continue paying the 5% royalty, no more talks of increasing it to 20%, ” he said when debating the state budget at the state assembly sitting on Monday (Dec 21).
Shafie, who is Senallang assemblyman, said that if they kept pushing for the higher percentage and if this materialised, it would become a burden on Petronas and may “paralyse” the company as it was not financially healthy at present.
On another matter, he urged the Sabah government to secure the Covid-19 vaccine on its own and to not rely only on the Federal Government.
The Parti Warisan Sabah president recalled how the previous Warisan-Plus administration made the drastic but necessary move to close Sabah borders when Covid-19 first hit earlier this year, including not allowing China tourists to travel here.
“We cannot depend solely on the Federal Government in combating Covid-19.
“The state is now a red zone and I worry when the vaccine doses are being distributed, Sabah is not given priority. So I suggest the Sabah government make efforts to procure vaccines that are available, ” Shafie added.
He also defended Sabah Development Bank’s (SDB) move to give an RM300mil loan to low-cost carrier AirAsia, which was hit by the pandemic, during his tenure.
“We need to help them, so when they recover they can make Kota Kinabalu as their hub as they intended, ” said Shafie, adding that the low cost airline is also expected to pay the loan back with interest.
Warisan’s Merotai assemblyman Sarifuddin Hata backed his statement, adding that the loan should not have been questioned as SDB must have made a thorough assessment before approving the loan.
“It is better that the Chief Minister (Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor) asks SDB to give a detailed briefing to all assemblymen so there are no more politically motivated statements from the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) side, ” said Sarifuddin.
Meanwhile, Api-Api assemblyman Datuk Christina Liew urged the Sabah government to take a cue from the Perak state government that gave fair treatment to all elected representatives regardless of whether they were in the administration or in the Opposition.
“The Perak government announced a Covid-19 assistance fund amounting to RM1.18mil to be distributed to all 59 assemblymen, including opposition assemblymen, who received RM20,000 allocation each to help their constituents.
“We must set aside political difference to help the people burdened by the conditional MCO here due to the latest wave of the pandemic.
“I also ask Sabah to emulate Johor, where the state government distributed its development allocation equally among all representatives, including the Opposition, for the good of the people.
“I hope Sabah government can follow their footsteps to prove that the current state government is an inclusive administration, ” the Sabah PKR chief added.
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