By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 — Lim Kit Siang said today that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak must declassify and table all documents on the oil royalty issue and explain why such payments had been made to Terengganu until 1999.
“What Najib should do is to present a White Paper on the oil royalty issue on the first day of the forthcoming meeting of Parliament on March 16, 2010 and schedule a special parliamentary debate on the issue.
“In the White Paper, Najib should declassify all documents and papers to fully explain why for 35 years the Federal Government honoured the states’ rights to 5 per cent oil royalty with regular payments to Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak and the legal history of the change of stand of the Federal Government in 2000 to withdraw such recognition and to pay instead “wang ehsan” (compassionate payments) to the Terengganu state government — all because of PAS’s capture of the state in the 1999 general elections,” he said in a press statement.
Lim also said that Umno’s gag order over Kelantan’s oil royalty claim showed that the party was willing to sacrifice historical accuracy for “political expediency.”
“Can the sons of the second and third Prime Ministers of Malaysia explain why they have turned their backs on their father’s joint legacy of 5 per cent oil royalty to the states and instead embraced the fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir’s distortion and violation of the petroleum agreements with the various states?
“Najib and Hishammuddin should not allow political expediency and considerations, even Umno’s survival, to dishonour their father’s joint legacy to give 5 per cent oil royalty to the states, particularly Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Johore,” he said in a press statement.
Yesterday Umno barred its members from speaking about the Kelantan oil royalty issue while it compiles the views of its grassroots.
The Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the party did not allow its members to issue statements that could damage its image.
Lim said that Umno’s gag order is aimed at silencing Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah as the veteran Umno man has openly clashed with his party over this issue.
Tengku Razaleigh has been campaigning for Kelantan’s entitlement to the five per cent oil royalty under the Petroleum Development Act 1974.
“It is no more a question of who and what is historically right or wrong but who has the present power to impose his views on the country at the moment, right or wrong.
“What the second and third Prime Ministers, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn, intended some 35 years ago, as ordering Razaleigh as the first Petronas Chairman ‘to design the Petroleum Development Act in such a way that the Malay heartland states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Johor and especially his beloved Pahang, would benefit directly from offshore oil beyond 3 nautical miles through the mechanism of 5 per cent cash payments made directly to the state consolidated fund’ (Razaleigh’s statement) do not matter today.
“Even Razak’s categorical and unequivocal commitment in Parliament on Nov. 12, 1975 in reply to my parliamentary question that ‘Under the agreement, each state will receive 5 per cent of the value of petroleum found and extracted from each of the states, whether onshore or offshore, that is sold by Petronas or agencies or contractors’ is now regarded as utterly of no consequence or value,” Lim said.
Lim also criticized those who have attacked Tengku Razaleigh.
“Those who are baying for Razaleigh’s blood, like Umno Supreme Council member Dr. Mohd Puad Zarkashi demanding for action to be taken against the Gua Musang Member of Parliament for speaking out on the Kelantan oil royalty issue, have personal political axes to grind.
“They are neither interested in historic rights and wrongs nor the legacies of the first three Prime Ministers of Malaysia.
The PAS-controlled Kelantan state assembly on Monday made a landmark vote when three out of six Barisan Nasional assemblymen, unanimously agreed with the assembly to take the state’s oil royalty claims against Petronas to court.
The trio are state opposition leader Datuk Mohd Alwi Che Ahmad (BN-Kok Lanas), Mat Yusof Abdul Ghani (BN–Nenggiri) and Datuk Abdul Rashid Aziz (BN–Kuala Balah).
However, they later withdrew their vote on the pretext that the motion had been amended.
Several Umno supreme councillors had recently questioned Tengku Razaleigh’s apparent “immunity” in discussing the controversial issue and had urged the leadership to take action.
Najib, the Umno president, had said he would ask the members to decide what should be done about the maverick politician’s public outbursts.
Tengku Razaleigh had led Semangat 46, after the old Umno was deregistered in 1988 following his challenge for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s presidency. He also challenged Najib for the Umno presidency but failed to qualify, having received just one nomination.
He has also continued to express loyalty to the party while saying he is ready for any hearing or punishment.