CM: Fight to protect rights thwarted by Emergency Powers

Posted on : 10 May 2019  Source of News: The Borneo Post

KUCHING: The State Government had tried to stop the federal government’s attempts to undermine Sarawak’s constitutional rights and safeguards but its efforts were thwarted by the use of Emergency powers in 1969, says Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said the State Government’s record in defending the legitimate interests of the State and its people was truly exemplary and as a matter of public record, he highlighted a few instances where the State Government had prevented efforts to undermine the State’s constitutional rights and safeguards.

He said in 1966, Parliament passed the Continental Shelf Act, 1966 and the Petroleum Mining Act, 1966 aimed at taking control of the continental shelf and the exploration of mining of oil and gas within the boundaries of Sarawak.

The State Government, he said, objected to the extension of these two Acts to Sarawak resulting in those laws being applied only to West Malaysia from 20th July 1966.

“However, our efforts were thwarted by the Federal Government using the Emergency powers to extend the laws to the State in 1969,” he said in his winding- up speech.

The Chief Minister, however, believed that since the Proclamation of Emergency had been annulled in December 2011, the laws made under emergency powers had ceased to have effect under Article 150(7) of the Federal Constitution and the extension of the Petroleum Mining Act, 1966 and the Continental Shelf Act, 1966 also ceased to have effect.

He added that this enabled Sarawak Government to enforce the Oil Mining Ordinance, 1958 to regulate oil mining both onshore and offshore of Sarawak.

By taking such measures, he said the State Government through Petros is determined to have regulatory control of offshore mining and equity participation in existing oil and natural gas fields and future exploration and mining areas offshore.

He said at the same time, Sarawak would want to have full control of onshore mining before the end of this year.

Abang Johari also said in 1983, Parliament passed the Perbadanan Pembekalan Letrik Sarawak Act 1983 [Cap.279] to pave the way for the Federal Government to take over Sarawak Electricity Supply Corporation (Sesco).

This was despite the Borneo States (Legislative Powers) Order, 1963 made by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong under Article 95C of the Federal Constitution which extended the legislative authority to include electricity and distribution of gas to the State, he added.

He pointed out that unlike Sabah, Sarawak refused to relinquish its legislative authority and hand over Sesco to Federal control.

He said not only did the Sarawak Government refuse to allow Sesco to be taken over, it was able instead to acquire, through Sarawak Energy Berhad a Federal Government owned company Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd the developer and owner of the Bakun Hydro-electric Dam so that all power generation in Sarawak comes under its jurisdiction and regulated under the Electricity Ordinance and not regulated by the Energy Commission established by the Federal Government.

“With its legislative and executive control over Electricity and hydro power, the State has been able to increase its power generation capacity from approximately 1,500 megawatts in 2009 to 4,800 megawatts in 2018, and clean energy in the form of hydro power increased during this period from 20 per cent of total generation capacity to almost 75 per cent.

“Besides, the State Grid has been strengthened with the recent commissioning of the 500kv transmission line, thus ensuring reliability and security of supply of power for domestic, commercial and industrial users.

“All these should not have been possible if the State Government had not prevented the take-over of Sesco and surrendered our legislative and executive authority over Electricity and Distribution of Gas to the Federal Government,” he said.