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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ex-S'wak chief rapped for discriminating against Kelantan


KUALA LUMPUR, Mac 11: PAS leaders have slammed Umno for running out of “credible people” to support their controversial stand that Kelantan was not entitled to oil royalty payments. 

“This shows how desperate Umno is. But the more they try to hoodwink the people, the worse it is for their party,” PAS vice president Mahfuz Omar (PIC) told Harakahdaily.

“It is really strange when Prime Minister Najib Razak refuses to accept the words of the architects of the Petroleum Development Act but instead depends on old politicians who do not have first-hand knowledge of the federal law to support Umno’s lies.”

Mahfuz was referring to comments made by former Sarawak chief minister Abdul Rahman Yakub that Kelantan was not entitled to receive cash payments unless the petroleum produced came from within three nautical miles of its shores.

Double standards

However, the 82-year old East Malaysian politician could not explain why the Umno-BN federal government paid Terengganu oil royalty then.

Oil from Kelantan, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak are mostly found beyond the three nautical mile limit.

“This blind support from Tun Rahman is most regrettable and smacks of double standards. He has chosen to discriminate against Kelantan even though he cannot explain why the federal government has been making the same payments to Terengganu,” said Mahfuz.

“Maybe he does not realize he is contributing to the suffering of the ordinary Kelantan people since he is part of the elite group. But it is irresponsible and shameful.

"It also shows his lack of understanding of the Petroleum Development Act and disrespect for Tengku Razaleigh and Salleh Abas."

Contradicting a wealth of legal evidence

Tengku Razaeligh Hamzah is the former finance minister and founding chairman of national oil firm Petronas, while Salleh Abbas is the former lord president of the Federal Court.

Both men were responsible for drafting the Petroleum Development Act 1974 and have said they would be prepared to testify in court that Kelantan was entitled to oil royalty just as Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak under this law.

Rahman Yakub had claimed that Sabah and Sarawak were different because the British colonial government had declared in 1954 that the territorial waters of the two East Malaysian states extended beyond the three-nautical-mile limit.

However, this view has been rubbished not only by Razaleigh and Abbas but also by the legal fraternity including the Bar Council.

According to Razaleigh, the Petroleum Development Act was drafted to ensure that all Malaysian states that produced petroleum received some form of return from the federal government. A formula of 5 percent of total annual oil production was agreed on by all parties.

PAS-led Kelantan has also pointed to a legal agreement the state inked with the federal government in 1975.


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