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AWSJ: Malaysian State's Oil-Royalty Lawsuit
By Leslie Lopez
10/3/2001 8:25 pm Sat
[Petronas dipegang kuncinya oleh Mahathir. Ia berbelanja tanpa
sesiapa pun berhak bertanya. Sudah beberapa kali ia melakukan
tindakkan diluar tujuan asal penubuhannya. Ia bukan milik rakyat
lagi sebaliknya menjadi genggaman Mahathir untuk sang kroni.
Mahathir begitu hebat berbelanja mega sedangkan rizab minyak negara
cuma tinggal kira-kira 15 tahun saja lagi. Beberapa pelaburan
sewelnyua masih belum memberi sebarang keuntungan lagi kepada negara
melainkan kroni sahaja yang diberi projek-projeknya. Malah banyak
antara mereka mendapat habuan dengan pen dan kertas-kertas sahaja
dengan rakyat tidak mengetahuinya. Antaranya ialah RM1.8 bilion
buat anak tuanya yang bermain kapal dan beberapa bilion lagi buat anak
perempuannya yang 'tidak berkerja'.
9th March 2001
Malaysian State's Oil-Royalty Lawsuit
Could Shed Light on Petronas's Doings
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- A state controlled by an Islamic opposition
party has sued the Malaysian government over disputed oil-royalty
payments, a move that could provide a rare peek into the secretive
affairs of state oil company Petroliam Nasional Bhd., or Petronas, the
country's richest corporation.
The Terengganu state government, which is controlled by the Parti
Islam se-Malaysia, or PAS, filed a suit Thursday asking Malaysia's
High Court to overturn a federal-government decree last year that
stopped Petronas from making oil-royalty payments to the state. The
PAS-led Terengganu government alleges in its suit that Prime Minister
Mahathir Mohamad's decision to stop oil-royalty payments unilaterally
altered the terms of a 1975 agreement between the company and the
state government and was, therefore, illegal. It further contends that
the federal government's decision was motivated by PAS's defeat of Dr.
Mahathir's ruling United Malays National Organization, or UMNO, in the
1999 state election.
The suit names Petronas and Malaysia's federal government as
defendants. The federal government has yet to respond to the
Terengganu government's allegations. A Petronas spokesman declined to
The suit could escalate tensions between PAS and UMNO at a time of
political divisions in the country's ethnic Malay majority. Many
Malays abandoned UMNO after the sacking and imprisonment of former
Deputy Premier Anwar Ibrahim in 1998, and PAS saw its support grow.
UMNO has proposed talks with PAS to discuss their differences, but
PAS's conditions include full reinstatement of the oil-royalty
payments to Terengganu.
The looming court battle could also provide a glimpse into the
financial affairs of Petronas, Malaysia's sole Fortune 500 company and
one that several times has played the role of financier to troubled
businesses. Management at the company, incorporated in 1974 to own and
manage the country's oil and gas reserves, reports directly to the
While the company began to provide some details of its financial
performance in the mid-1990s, a full version of its annual audited
accounts has never been made public. Petronas declared record profit
of 12.6 billion ringgit ($3.3 billion) for the year ended March 31,
2000, up 85% from the previous year, citing strong oil prices and
large contributions from its overseas operations. But how much the
government receives in annual dividend payments, or the amount
Petronas holds in cash reserves, has never been disclosed.
Investment analysts, who track Petronas because it is a large bond
issuer in international markets, estimate dividend payments from the
company amount to almost 13% of federal government revenue, while the
oil company's cash reserves account for about 5% of all Malaysian bank
The Terengganu suit against Petronas provides some clues to the oil
company's financial clout. According to court documents filed
Thursday, Terengganu state received a total of 7.13 billion ringgit
($1.88 billion) in oil-royalty payments between 1978 and March 2000.
Since the 1975 oil-royalty agreement with Petronas stipulated that
Terengganu receive a 5% share of the proceeds of all oil and gas
produced within state territory, Petronas would have earned about 142
billion ringgit during that period from Terengganu alone. (Malaysia
has two other major oil and gas producing states, Sabah and Sarawak on
the island of Borneo.)
Petronas has regularly been tapped to play the role of private banker
for the federal government. Kuala Lumpur twice -- in 1984 and 1989 --
used Petronas's money to save scandal-ridden Bank Bumiputra Bhd. from
collapse. In August 1997, Petronas paid 1.8 billion ringgit to a state
pension fund to purchase a controlling 29% stake in Malaysia's largest
shipping concern, Malaysia International Shipping Corp. Bhd. Eight
months after Petronas invested in it, the company acquired a
debt-burdened shipping concern controlled by Dr. Mahathir's eldest
The oil company last year also completed the acquisition of a 27.2%
stake in national car manufacturer Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd.
Petronas's other interests include a controlling stake in a property
concern that owns Kuala Lumpur's Twin Towers, the world's tallest
buildings. The oil company is also funding construction of a new
administrative capital that Dr. Mahathir's government wants to build
near Kuala Lumpur.