KOTA KINABALU, Sept 17 — Sabah Barisan Nasional chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin asserted that a new petroleum deal has been proposed for the state, saying its aim of a 20 per cent royalty for oil extracted from its territories might not be realised.
He argued that it would not be possible to pay Sabah the royalty sought due to unspecified agreements with international organisations.
“But don’t worry we have other plans. There are many ways we can negotiate with Petronas,” he said.
Sabah and Sarawak have repeatedly pressed for the royalty of five per cent for oil and gas resources extracted from the two states to be raised to at least 20 per cent.
The Pakatan Harapan coalition had promised an increase in oil royalty payments to the Borneo states in its 2018 election manifesto and did not deliver after it unexpectedly won the general election.
The PH administration had been in discussions with Sabah and Sarawak on this but collapsed in February, allowing Perikatan Nasional to seize control of federal power.
According to Bung, one such proposal included a Sabah Petroleum Council that could secure funds for Sabahan youths’ education instead of direct payments to the state government.
“This is one of the ways to give the funds back to Sabahans as it is not likely that the five per cent oil royalty Sabah is getting at present can be increased,” he said.
Bung also said election promises about the Malaysian Agreement 1963 and increasing oil royalties were nothing new but argued that it was not realistic to expect the federal government to be able to deliver on these.
“But we have many other ways. Let us rule and we will get you a better deal,” he said.
Oil royalties has been among a long list of Sabah’s contentions with the federal government. Almost every administration has promised to solve this issue but the federal government has so far not come to an agreement via its national oil company Petronas.
Bung’s BN is part of the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah, a loose coalition of Sabah Opposition parties including PN.
GRS is challenging the incumbent Warisan Plus coalition for control of Sabah in the state’s premature 16th election.
Polling for the Sabah election is on September 26.