KUCHING, Aug 11 — Sarawak chief minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg today denied claims that he was not persistent when it came to talks with Putrajaya over oil and gas rights.
He said he has no choice but to make a statement as there are people who have been claiming that he is weak when negotiating with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government on oil and gas resources found in Sarawak’s territorial waters.
“But in my heart, I am not. I may look soft, but I am brave,” he said at the opening of the Dayak Bidayuh cultural symposium, organised by the Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA) here.
Abang Johari said there are people who appear to be brave, but in reality, are not when it matters most.
He said he does not want people to praise him either for his strong stand over the state’s rights or what he has been doing for Sarawak.
He said he feels uncomfortable when people start to praise him “because to me, such praises do not represent their true feelings”.
The chief minister said that the state government is ready to face Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) in a legal battle over oil and gas resources because it has documentary proof to back its claims.
“Those resources are found within our boundary which has never been altered since 1954. Therefore, our boundary is our boundary. We formed Malaysia with Malaya, Sabah and Singapore in 1963 as a single entity,” he said.
Abang Johari also reminded Putrajaya that Sarawak has exclusive rights over the continental shelf where oil and gas resources are found.
He also reminded Opposition politicians not to politicise issues relating to oil and gas, but to let professionals and Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) handle the matter.
“As politicians, we are here to defend our rights and the rest, we let the professionals deal with it,” he said.
The chief minister also said that the state government is willing to sponsor postgraduate students to undertake research on languages of minority groups in Sarawak.