Why is Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, who has been silent about the 5% oil royalty for the past 30 years, keen to look at the issue again?

KUCHING: Sarawak opposition has questioned the need for secrecy in the re-negotiations of the existing oil agreement with the federal government.
“I am curious to know as to why Chief Minister [Taib Mahmud] should think royalty negotiations are better done in private. Why is that so?” asked Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian.
Bian, who is a senior lawyer and Ba Kelalan assemblyman, said oil and gas issue was of public concern.
“The oil and gas in Sarawak is not the property of the chief minister – it belongs to all the people of Sarawak, hence we have a right to know what is being discussed.
“We want to know what the chief minister intends to do about it… we would like to remind him that he is a servant of the people and is accountable to them,” Bian said.
He pointed out that Sarawak has been lagging behind the Peninsula in every aspect including roads and infrastructure, education, healthcare, jobs, transport, industry and development.
“One could say that Peninsular Malaysia and many individuals have prospered or benefited via Petronas at our expense.
“Sarawakians now say kini masa balas budi to quote a line from the infamous Barisan Nasional Merdeka theme song 2012.
“The former prime minister (Dr Mahathir Mohamad), in a Freudian slip, had referred to the current administration as the ‘devil’ and the opposition as the ‘angel’. That in itself says it all.
“I trust that the rakyat are astute enough to judge for themselves whether to choose more of the same or to give themselves the hope of a better and brighter future with the Pakatan Rakyat,” he said.

Why now Taib?
Bian also questioned the timing of Taib’s decision to re-negotiate the 5% oil royalty, when he knew about the imbalance and unjust agreement these past 30 years.
“Of course, I welcome the announcement by the chief minister that he agrees that the royalty should be increased.
“But why is it only now that the chief minister is agreeing to pursue the matter? Why was he quiet for more than 30 years?”
Bian suggested that the current political climate and “a real possibility that the rakyat will vote them [Taib and BN] out” in the coming general election may have compelled Taib to address the issue.
“One can’t help but think that it is because this is an issue very close to the hearts of the people, an issue which Pakatan has promised to address.
“Obviously there has been no political will on the BN government’s part over the last 30 or so years to seek a fairer share of the royalty until now…,” said Bian.

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