By Shazwan Mustafa KamalKUALA LUMPUR, May 2 — Lim Kit Siang today accused Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of “evading” the issue on the sovereignty of Limbang as well as two disputed oil blocks off Borneo.
The DAP parliamentary chief said Najib and Abdullah had clearly avoided addressing the central issue and demanded a straight-forward explanation from the two leaders.
“Najib and Abdullah are evading the central issue which is the sovereignty of Limbang in exchange for the joint commercial exploitation of two oil blocks, Blocks L and M,” Lim(picture) told The Malaysian Insider.
Lim’s remarks were a response towards Najib’s statement that ongoing talks between Malaysia and Brunei will benefit both countries, a move seen to quell a reignited controversy over who actually owns the disputed Limbang and offshore oil blocks.
The prime minister also said both neighbours are discussing the issue from all aspects including the role and opportunities for national oil firm Petronas and Brunei investing in Malaysia as one package.
“Their evasion of the issue only reinforces the belief that Malaysian sovereignty to Limbang has been unilaterally decided without going through proper procedures in Parliament or even informing the public,” said Lim.
The Ipoh Timur MP reasoned that a joint commercial exploitation of the two oil blocks would not require Malaysia to trade the oil blocks in exchange for Limbang.
“A joint commercial exploitation of the oil blocks can be done without Limbang needing to be given away. Questions need to be answered, not evaded,” Lim told The Malaysian Insider.
He said that a White Paper needed to be produced on the matter as soon as possible.
State news agency Bernama quoted the prime minister earlier today as saying an agreement in principle was reached in 2009 and both sides are negotiating on the basis of mutual benefits.
Petronas touched off the controversy when it terminated a contract with Murphy Sabah Oil Ltd for Blocks L and M off Limbang on April 22, saying it wasn’t Malaysian territory. Former Prime Minister and Petronas adviser Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed Abdullah signed off the oil rights for Limbang before resigning last year.
Abdullah has denied the allegations while Petronas said it will develop the blocks under a commercial arrangement with Brunei.
Dr Mahathir had accused Abdullah of giving up RM320 billion in potential oil earnings in return for Brunei dropping its claim over Limbang in Sarawak.
Dr Mahathir had claimed Abdullah had given away Malaysia’s claim to oil offshore of Limbang following a trip to Bandar Seri Begawan in the waning days of his administration last year.
Abdullah said the areas known as Block L and Block M would be jointly developed by the two countries for a period of 40 years.
“The financial and operational modalities for giving effect to this arrangement will be further discussed by the two sides. This means that in so far as the oil and gas resources are concerned, the agreement is not a loss for Malaysia,” said Abdullah in his statement on Friday.
The country’s fifth prime minister clarified that his visit to Brunei, which was made three weeks before his departure, was aimed at solving a long-standing border dispute “without any disadvantage for Malaysia.”
The visit resulted in an agreement between the two countries to establish a permanent land and sea boundary.
Abdullah said he signed the agreement to solve a border dispute with Brunei with prior approval from the Cabinet.