A special committee set up by the federal government to determine cash payments from petroleum revenue to the oil-producing states omitted to mention Sabah, claims the DAP.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman’s reluctance to push the envelope on oil royalties and demand more of its wealth back from the federal government is puzzling Sabahans in and the opposition here.
Sabah receives a “ridiculous” 5% royalty and despite its natural wealth, is today the poorest state in Malaysia and relies on federal government handouts.
It has also been pointed out that the small allocation of development funds from the Barisan Nasional-led federal government does not commensurate with the size of the state.
Reminding Musa of the lopsidedness of federal funding, state DAP chief Jimmy Wong said that a special committee set up recently by the federal government to determine cash payments from petroleum revenue to the states in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia had omitted to mention Sabah.
“Sabah was left out despite being one of the biggest oil producers in the country with an estimated contribution of more than RM19 billion a year.
“Why were we left out out of the list? Musa must explain this omission,” said Wong.
He also took Musa to task for alleging yesterday that Pakatan Rakyat (of which DAP is a partner) was using oil royalties as a ploy to fish for votes.
Wong said that Pakatan’s pledge to increase Sabah’s oil royalty payments from 5% to 20% is a promise which is logical.
He said Pakatan’s pledge is to emphasise the state autonomy and is separate from the funds channelled to the state by the federal government.
Wong said that Musa was ignoring the fact that oil and gas extracted in the state belongs to Sabah by saying that it did not matter how the federal government delivered the money to the state as long as it got the money.
Musa’s flawed mindset
He said that with a larger portion of the oil and gas bounty, the state government would be able to invest in the state’s infrastructure “in accordance with the demands of people in Sabah”.
“This is the main concept of Pakatan… an emphasis on decentralisation that would allow the state government the right to allocate funding according to its vision and needs and not rely on federal government policy, which is politically biased.
Wong said that a Pakatan-led government would restore Sabah’s rights and would even bring the issue to the court for a legal remedy.
He said that unlike BN, a Pakatan government was capable of putting the state’s interest first and bring about real development.