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2008 Nov 23 - Oil royalty: SAPP not giving up

Oil royalty: SAPP not giving up

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) is not giving up its struggle for more oil royalty payment for Sabah even though the State Government stated it is not pursuing the matter since the Petroleum Development Agreement is not revisable.

"This is not the end of the story, we will continue to fight for it," said President Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee commenting on Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman's explanation during the recent Budget sitting that there is no provision in the agreement to review the five per cent oil royalty.

SAPP Luyang Assemblywoman, Melanie Chia and Sepanggar MP Datuk Eric Majimbun, had both raised the issue at the State Assembly and Parliament, respectively.

"Even the country's Constitution can be amended (so) why can't it be the same for the Petroleum Development Agreement?," said Yong, adding that even if it is stated that the agreement is not revisable, it is not final so long as both the Federal and State governments mutually agree to review.

"We will not be surprised if Kuala Lumpur declines to review because they are taking our resources but it is a surprise that our State Government is also reluctant to call for the review," he said.

Speaking to reporters after the soft opening of the SAPP Putatan Maju Centre near here, Saturday, Yong asked if it was wrong for Sabah and Sarawak to request for a revision on such a lop-sided agreement.

According to him, Parti Keadilan Rakyat de-facto leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also shared similar sentiment on this issue with SAPP.

"This morning (Saturday) we (SAPP leaders) had breakfast with him, to get to know each other and discuss several issues like the economic situation and the review of the petroleum agreement.

"Anwar's stand and (that of the) SAPP is the same on this issue," he said.

Asked if there was any official invitation from Pakatan Rakyat for SAPP to join them, he said there was none.

"But the components in the Pakatan Rakyat understand our position," he said, adding that SAPP is also not answerable to Pakatan Rakyat, especially in the context of its eight-point agenda, one of which is State autonomy.

"The question of whether Pakatan Rakyat agrees with SAPP or not, is not the issue because that is what we call State autonomy.

"We don't have to get permission from anyone outside Sabah to get autonomy," he said, when asked if he had spoken to Anwar about State autonomy.

Nonetheless, SAPP would be constructive and innovative in its relationship with PKR without compromising its autonomy, he said.

"Whether we will be opposing or supporting each other (in the election) our basis is in the eight-point agenda and one of them is State autonomy. So we cannot do anything that compromises our autonomy."

Earlier, Yong said the opening of the SAPP Putatan Centre at the former Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) headquarters in Putatan Square is a symbolic start for SAPP's struggle.

"I feel proud that SAPP now has gained a foothold in Putatan. As the first step to fight for the rights of Sabah we take over the State BN's office. Our re-branding process that started in October is beginning to show results.

"This is just the beginning (and) there are more great things to come," he said.

He added that so far the party had lost less than 200 members, including one in Tanjung Papat when Datuk Raymond Tan submitted his official resignation letter, but in the past few weeks SAPP had gained more than 1,200 new members.

He also disclosed that SAPP had approved the membership of academician and columnist, Haji Amde Sidek, who is also in the party's think-tank board.

Yong also commended the new members in Putatan led by Dullie Haji Marie, the former Political Secretary to then Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, for joining the party.

"It is very rare that a ruling coalition party component will leave the government of the day and fight for the opposition. It is even rarer that new members join this party knowing very well that the next elections is still a long way to go," he said.

Later, Yong together with SAPP Supreme Council members witnessed the planting of the SAPP flag at the centre by party adviser, Datuk Haji Murshidi Nambi. He also received 612 membership applications from the 10 SAPP branches in Putatan.

(As reported in Daily Express on Nov 23, 2008)


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