PETALING JAYA: PBB vice-president Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah has accused Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali of displaying arrogance and harbouring a condescending attitude towards the East Malaysian states with his statement about the meaning of “oil royalty”.
Karim told FMT Azmin was redefining rights and royalties when he told the Dewan Rakyat on Monday that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) election manifesto used the term “royalty” outside the context of its dictionary meaning and that it was actually referring to “cash payment”.
He said the minister’s remarks seemed to betray an “arrogant and colonial” mentality.
He also said Sarawak and Sabah should, from the start, have been treated as “true partners” in a business venture with Petronas and Putrajaya.
“We should have had representatives on the Petronas board from the beginning. We should have been privy to the accounts, decisions and management of Petronas.
“As partners, we would surely want to know how much executives are paid, what the production costs are and so on because these will have an impact on the final profits that we receive.”
Instead, he said, Putrajaya had been treating the two states as its “golden goose”.
Opposition parties and their elected representatives have in recent weeks been criticising the government for saying the 20% oil royalty pledged in the PH manifesto referred to a percentage on profits and not gross revenue.
In his statement on Monday, Azmin noted that the Petroleum Development Act (PDA) refers to a “cash payment” of 5% of gross profits per barrel of oil.
Keningau MP Jeffrey Kitingan, speaking to FMT yesterday, said Azmin and PH had been “caught with their pants down”.
He said they knew well enough that royalties were normally based on gross revenue.
“They know the term ‘cash payment’ under Section 4 of the PDA is commonly referred to as royalty payment, which is based on gross revenue.
“But now PH is avoiding payment and making excuses or interpreting it to mean something else.”
Johan Ariffin, a member of the G25 group of retired civil servants and a former deputy director of the Sabah Foundation, said Azmin should stop issuing statements on the matter until he had made a thorough study of it and until negotiations with the stakeholders were finalised.
He said issuing “half-baked statements” would only anger East Malaysians because they would suspect an attempt to justify breaking a promise.
“What is most important is to start the ball rolling on the negotiations to give the oil-producing states their rightful dues,” he added.