Abang Johari slams Amanah deputy president over Malaysia agreement move

KUCHING: Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg today criticised Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub for having said that the Sarawak government's act of sending lawyers to London over the Malaysia Agreement 1963 would invite foreigners to "intervene" in national affairs.

"His statement reflects their (Amanah's) quality of leadership. Their thinking is so shallow. It is difficult for us to rely on that sort of leadership," he said to reporters after officiating at the Board of Engineers Malaysia roadshow here.

He said the Sarawak delegation would be in London for about a week on a fact-finding mission, to get to the source of the documents that led to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 that provided for Malaya, Singapore, North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak to become Malaysia. (Singapore ceased to be a part of Malaysia in 1965 and became an independent state).

Abang Johari had said last Saturday that Sarawak would send a team of lawyers to London to search for and study any references related to the state's rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

The Sarawak team to London would be led by Sarawak Assistant Minister for Law, Federal-State Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali.

On another matter, Abang Johari said a Sarawak-owned offshore oil and gas exploration company would begin operations within six months.

The government was in the process of forming the company, Petroleum Sarawak (Petras), which would be 100 % owned by the state government and would work with national oil corporation, Petronas, he said.He said the initial investment of the company was still being discussed.

The Chief Minister also said that in the past, oil and gas companies from Sarawak were only involved in downstream oil and gas activities in Bintulu, with an estimated investment of US$2 billion.

Petras, he said, would be involved in upstream oil and gas exploration and extraction of gas and oil within Sarawak waters.

He said the company would get its professional staff from among Sarawakians who were already in the industry, including those currently working with Petronas, Shell and Murphy Oil.

"We have Sarawakians who are engineers in these fields and this will give opportunities to Sarawakians to work in the company," he added.

He said the state government was taking a holistic approach and would work with Petronas to explore and extract oil and gas in Sarawak waters.

"There is no point blaming others. We must have our own initiative and get ourselves ready to be involved in the industry," he said.

He said the profit earned would be shared between the state government and Petronas based on equity. — Bernama