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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pakatan wants Ku Li to head caucus on oil dispute

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani  |  malaysianinsider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 – Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders today met Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (pic) to discuss the possibility of the former finance minister chairing a proposed caucus on the Kelantan oil royalty dispute.

The offer came about when the veteran Umno leader met with Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Machang PKR MP Saifuddin Nasution, Kubang Kerian PAS MP Salahuddin Ayub, Batu MP Tian Chua at the MP's lounge in parliament.

After discussing for nearly 30 minutes, the Gua Musang MP told reporters that he would consider the offer but did not give a timeframe for an answer.

They have proposed to form a caucus on oil because oil is a very hot subject being debated between the government and particularly the state representatives. They think that through the caucus there could be some kind of logical reasoning in order to arrive at an amicable solution to the problem," said the Kelantan prince.

“So they have decided to approach me to head the caucus. I have not given an answer. I will still consider and think about this,” said Razaleigh, popularly known as Ku Li.

Razaleigh said that he would consider the request as he was “involved in the oil business” since the formation of national oil company Petronas and the drafting of the Petroleum Development Bill. He was Petronas’s first chairman when it was formed in 1974.

"Anything that could protect the constitutional rights of the people, in particular of the states ... I will definitely not let any side down so I will try to play my part if I can in order to resolve this problem, if it is considered a problem at all,” said Ku Li.

“I think it was indeed in the vesting deed agreement that was signed between the states and Petronas that the states where oil is found on shore or off shore will benefit from such fund.

“They (Kelantan) should be given... according to the agreement, they should get the oil money,” he added.

Razaleigh reiterated his stand that “there is no such thing as wang ehsan” or goodwill payment

“Oil is the right of the people and it is not for the federal government to distribute as a largess. The government can distribute from the revenue collected from taxes in such line and that is the prerogative of the federal government but when it comes to this, it’s the right of the people.

“That is why I feel inclined to say my piece because I was involved from the beginning and I know the intention why we had the agreement,” he said.

When asked if prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was wrong in calling the oil royalty a “goodwill” payment, he replied that “it is left to your interpretation.”

Najib sparked an uproar when he announced that the Barisan National (BN) federal government woukd pay Kelantan “goodwill payment” for oil extracted in its waters instead of oil royalty.

PAS lawmakers are disputing the “goodwill payment”, saying that it is akin to receiving alms instead of rightful oil royalty.

Najib told Parliament that Kelantan has no right to claim for royalties from Petronas since oil was extracted beyond the state’s waters, similar to the situation in Terengganu.

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