NGO taps Ku Li in battle for oil royalty

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 7): Oil royalty pressure group Royalti has reached out to Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in a bid to strengthen the group's demands for more royalty payments from Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas).

Royalti president Nazri Deraman told reporters today that the group, which is commonly known by the letter R, had met with Razeleigh yesterday afternoon to discuss the group's aims.

Razaleigh, who is currently Umno's Gua Musang MP, has been an outspoken supporter of Kelantan's rights to oil royalty payments.

Fondly known as Ku Li, Razeleigh was the founder and former chairman of Petronas. He was instrumental in drafting the Petroleum Development Act 1974.

"Tengku Razaleigh has verbally agreed to join us but he asked us to first specify details of the proposed R5," Nazri told a press conference outside the Petronas Twin Towers, the headquarters of the national oil firm.

Nazri said Royalti has briefed Razaleigh on their plans to gather the people of the five oil producing states under the banner "R5".

The five states are Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Sabah and Sarawak. Royalti also has member branches in Selangor and Johor alongside the five oil states.

The Kelantan state government has been locked in a legal battle with Petronas for direct payment of oil royalties. Currently, Kelantan's share is funnelled to the state via different federal development projects.

Apart from Kelantan's claims, Nazri said Royalti was also claiming for higher royalty payments of 20% to the oil producing states.

"These states are the poorest in Malaysia, especially Terengganu and Sabah, even though they have resources," Nazri said.

Petronas and Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah have warned that increased royalty payments could strain Petronas’ economic viability and impede future investments.

Nazri said Royalti's next stage will be to approach the five state's governments to form an alliance to claim petroleum royalties.

In a recent interview with fz.com, PAS leader Datuk Husam Musa revealed plans to unite the five oil-rich states under the G5 banner to leverage on their collective political force in demanding oil royalty payments.

Husam, who is Kelantan state executive council member, said the combined electoral force of the five states was strong enough to make their wishes heeded.

The five states have a total 92 parliamentary seats with over 3.5 million voters.

Of the five states, only Kelantan is governed by PAS while the remainder are Barisan Nasional states.

Nazri however maintained that Royalti is a non-partisan effort despite its close links to PAS.

"You can see, we invite Tengku Razaleigh who is an Umno member, to be our patron. We are non-partisan. We hope Tengku Razaleigh, who has strong ties to (Sarawak chief minister) Taib Mahmud, can help us.

Nazri also said Royalti will hold several peaceful demonstrations outside the Petronas Twin Towers if Petronas does not respond to the group's earlier letters and memorandums.

According to Nazri, Royalti had on Jan 10 sent a memorandum to Petronas to claim oil royalty payments due to Kelantan.

Their claim is based on the agreement signed between the state and Petronas on May 9, 1975 where Petronas agreed to a cash payment of 5% of the value of petroleum from the state.

Petronas also pays the federal government 5% for production of petroleum in Malaysia.

Nazri (2nd right) with other members of Royalti during the press conference at KLCC.

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