Monday, August 10, 2009

PAS wants 'oil royalties'

SEVENTY people set sail in three boats on a 26-hour round trip of the South China Sea last week.

Their mission gave Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak a new headache in Kelantan - although some themselves returned seasick.

Malaysia produces oil and gas offshore, in the South China Sea, and a growing number of Kelantan residents feel that the federal government owes the east coast state at least RM1.7 billion (S$700 million) in 'oil royalties'.

Ten leaders of Malaysia's opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat went on the watery expedition on Tuesday to make that point.

The rest were mostly journalists, bloggers and PAS members from Kelantan, a state that has remained in PAS hands for 19 years.

Kelantan's Deputy Speaker Zaki Ibrahim led the mission and state executive councillor Husam Musa was also on one boat.

The two fishing boats and one decommissioned navy boat sailed from two jetties in Kelantan.

Tabloid reporter Khairi Mohamad, who went on the trip, was quoted as saying in a newspaper: 'The trip was a harrowing experience and almost all of us suffered from severe seasickness.'

Malaysia extracts hydrocarbon resources from Sabah, Sarawak, Terengganu and Pahang.

Each receives a 5 per cent royalty a year from the federal government based on the values of the deposits brought out. Most Malaysians refer to this simply as an 'oil royalty'.

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