'What court case' asks Sarawak MP over rejected oil royalty question

DAP Bandar Kuching parliamentarian Chong Chieng Jen said it was ridiculous for the Dewan Rakyat speaker to turn down his question on Sarawak's demand for 20 percent oil and gas royalties.

Chong said that the reason given - that the question may prejudice an ongoing court case - was too far fetched.

"The only ongoing court case about oil royalty is the case between Kelantan against Petronas and the federal government.

"Whatever that case may be, there is no way an answer to the status of negotiation between Sarawak and federal government on oil and gas royalty will affect or prejudice the outcome of that case.

"The reason given by the Speaker in rejecting my question is most absurd and baseless," said Chong in a statement.

He said he had earlier submitted a question requesting an update on the status of the negotiation between the federal government and Sarawak, on the latter’s demand for 20 percent oil and gas royalties.

However, he said that yesterday, he received a letter from the Dewan Rakyat Speaker disallowing his question, the reason given was that the question may prejudice an ongoing court case.

"How can an update report on the negotiation between Sarawak and the federal government affect the court’s decision in a case between the Kelantan and the federal government?

"In fact, the Kelantan Government’s case against the Federal Government started in 2010."

Chong said that after the Sarawak state assembly passed the resolution to demand 20 percent oil and gas royalties in 2014, he was still able to get updates on the matter from the minister in charge in Parliament.

"It was only later when Sarawak could not get the federal government to concede on the 20 percent oil and gas royalties demand that ministers started to refuse answering my question," he said, wondering if the federal government had something to hide.

Chong, who is also state DAP chief questioned if Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem's "hard talk and tough-guy position" on Sarawak autonomy would amount to anything, as he cannot even deliver the unanimous resolution of the Sarawak state assembly on the 20 percent royalty.

"The whole issue is now not even mentioned by Adenan anymore and no one is now allowed even to question it in Parliament," said Chong.

Sarawak autonomy had been the main focus of Adenan's campaign during the last state election, a stand which even had the tacit support of DAP and state opposition parties, despite being on opposite sides of the political divide.

It was this sentiment that carried the unanimous support for the 20 percent oil royalty motion in 2014.

Though DAP and state opposition parties had been quick to pounce on anything that made it seemed like Adenan was not living up to his end of the bargain, to pressure the federal government to accede to the demand.