Negotiation Without Involving The MA63 Consultative Committee Can’t Be Accepted

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Joint Statement by Chiew Chin Sing, state assemblyman for Tanjong Batu and Irene Chang, state assemblyperson for Bukit Assek.

It is with regret for DAP members in the Consultative Committee to receive the news of Batu Lintang assemblyman, See Chee How’s resignation from the Committee which was set up by the State Legislative Assembly in November 2018. While we respect the assemblyman’s decision, both Chiew Chin Sing (Tanjong Batu) and I (Bukit Assek) have resolved to remain in the committee to play our roles as entrusted upon us by our party, the State Legislative Assembly and all Sarawakians. We shall continue to advance and safeguard the special interests, rights and position of Sarawak as enshrined in MA63 and the Federal Constitution. No effort shall be spared in ensuring that the expectations of our fellow Sarawakians for greater autonomy and devolution of powers to our State are met through our role in the Consultative Committee.

Having said that, we stand with See Chee How in protesting against Sarawak State Government in the recent actions of the working committee under Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan to not involve the negotiating team from the Consultative Committee in the commercial negotiations with Petronas and Federal Government. It is indeed absolutely unacceptable that despite the fact that the working committee under the Deputy Chief Minister is already in the midst of negotiating on the finer details of the terms of settlement and which terms would be known after 3rd August, 2020, and yet the negotiating team from the Consultative Committee has not even been engaged or invited to be involved in the negotiations.

The lack of involvement of the negotiating team from the Consultative Committee defeats the purpose of why it was set up in the first place on 10th June 2020, ie to allow the team to participate and to keep abreast with the negotiations carried on between Sarawak and Petronas and the Federal Government in order that the Consultative Committee would be kept up to date in order that the committee may discharge her duty to the State Legislative Assembly better.

In fact, during the 10th June 2020 meeting, it was agreed that the negotiating team from the Consultative Committee would be empowered to negotiate in the 3 provinces of the Petroleum Development Act 1974, Continental Shelf Act 1966, and the Territorial Sea Act 2012, which contravenes Article 2b of the Federal Constitution. As far as we can remember from the meeting, it was never the purpose of the Consultative Committee to strictly limit or confine its power and authority to just tackling the legal aspects of negotiation. It is therefore not right for the working committee under the Deputy Chief Minister to carry on with their unilateral negotiation without roping in the negotiating team from the Consultative Committee.

We therefore call on the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who head the negotiating team from the Consultative Committee to insist that his team be henceforth actively engaged in the current negotiations between Sarawak, Petronas and the Federal Government. Datuk Abdul Karim should be very mindful that a heavy burden lies on his and his negotiating team’s shoulder to ensure that the history of 1975 does not repeat itself with the executive continuing to ignore the boundaries set up by the legislative. A heavy burden therefore lies in the negotiating team’s hands that Sarawak be socially and economically restored to her rightful place through the role they should play in the negotiation.

We further call on the Chairman of the Consultative Committee, Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar to convene an immediate meeting to fill in the void left by See Chee How who was representing the voice of the opposition parties in the negotiating team. Since it was the purpose of the Consultative Committee to comprise of members from all political parties in the State, the team would now be void of the voice of the opposition parties in the negotiating team. It is therefore only right and proper that all voices from the State Legislative Assembly be represented and heard and the place should therefore be filled by either one of the remaining opposition members in the committee, namely, Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, Chiew Chin Sing or myself, Irene Chang.