Sabah hopes to settle issues on state rights by next year

Shafie Apdal.

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government hopes to settle issues on the state’s rights including on oil royalty payment and the 40% net revenue owed to it by next year.

“I agree there should be a timeframe. I expect to overcome these issues hopefully by next year,”
Chief Minister Shafie Apdal told the state assembly today.

Shafie said the Warisan-led government has done more than previous state administrations in demanding Sabah’s rights under the Malaysian federation.

“Although we are not satisfied yet with what we’ve got, but out of the 21 items discussed by the special Cabinet committee to review and implement the Malaysia Agreement 1963, we have agreed on eight items with the federal government,” he said.

Shafie said the agreements include on export duty for timber and forest produce, Sabah’s control over electricity and gas supply, as well as authority on labour laws.

“The special grant to Sabah has also been increased from RM26.7 million to RM53.4 million for next year. This is a 100% increase. It would climb to RM80.1 milion for 2022 and 2023 and RM106.8 million for 2024,” said Shafie.

“This has never been done since the 1970s.”

Earlier, Masidi Manjun (PPBM-Karanaan) said there had been no solutions in sight despite years of discussions over oil royalty and net revenue.

He said that Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had agreed in principle that Sabah had the right to demand the 40% revenue.

“My suggestion is that both sides should now be discussing the mechanics of payment starting with a percentage that the federal government can afford, say 10% this year and rising to the full 40% within a timeframe agreed by both,” he said.

“As it is, all the discussions seem to be open-ended.”

State opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan (STAR-Tambunan) meanwhile said the Sabah government should not allow itself to be “bullied” by Putrajaya, especially over its claim on oil royalty.

He also said the Petroleum Development Act 1976 signed under former chief minister Harris Salleh was unconstitutional.