Using The Oil Royalty Issue For Political Mileage

The moment Barisan Nasional (BN) lost the General Elections it was announced that Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) , the Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Parti Demokratik Progresif (PDP) would leave the sinking ship and form Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).

The coalition is primarily interested in the state’s interest and rights and uses ‘Sarawakian loyalty’ to gain favour among the people of Sarawak. Paramount to their interpretation of Sarawakian loyalty is sovereignty over the state’s oil and gas resources.

The rallying cry for more oil royalty greater than the present 5% of gross revenue is getting louder with Sarawak’s state elections getting closer which must be held by September 2021. When BN won the last state elections in May 2016 with 72 out of 82 seats, not even a whisper of more oil royalties were heard.

Two years later with BN out of the federal government, the former component parties of BN have become emboldened in asserting so called rights.

The easiest route to the hearts of Sarawakians is for parties like PBB who were once part of BN to now claim that Sarawak had been cheated all along by the BN led Federal Government by receiving only 5% of its oil revenue. The former Sarawakian based BN parties have started to resort to these anti Federal sentiments to avoid losing more seats to the 10 already held by DAP and PKR.

It is ironic that the parties in GPS wants to be seen to be supportive of Pakatan Harapan (PH) which holds the majority of seats in the federal government so that it can have a higher percentage of royalties and obtain federal funds for development but at the same time wanting to be more independent and in control of its resources. It wants Petronas to develop the local oil and gas sector but wants to duplicate the role of Petronas in the form of Petros. What is the end game?

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