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The PM Litters His Aura With Mistakes - MGG Pillai
By web aNtu

1/7/2000 1:38 pm Sat

Subject: [sangkancil] [MGG] The Prime Minister Litters His Aura With Mistakes

THE PRIME MINISTER confirms his pettiness in national policy and punish
states that dare elect the opposition into power. So, he questions the
PAS-run Trengganu's right to petroleum royalties. He says Trengganu was
allowed royalties because it was a poor state. He does not see why,
since one presumes he now says it is rich, it should continue to be paid
royalties, especially when other National Front-run states do not. The
other states do not have oil off their shores; if they had, they would
have had royalties too. But it has something that Trengganu and
Kelantan does not have: a National Front administration. The Prime
Minister's creative on-the-run edicts that he insists should take
precedence of the Malaysian constitutionan provisions, under which the
royalty agreements were signed. The alternate was for all the royalties
to go to the state off which oil and gas were found.

The states got off worse in that round of negotiations because the
National Front administration in the centre negotiated with the National
Front administrations in the state. In other words, at the signing, the
states got a worse-off deal. To now insist that that was a mistake
beggars belief. His pettiness in this suggests he would not only
disallow a non-National Front state administration to progress and
develop but would punish it for daring to elect an opposition party into

What raised the Prime Minister's ire is the prevailing high price
of crude which means the Trengganu state government gets two-fifths more
in royalties this year at RM800 million than last year. The Prime
Minister: "... we believed then that oil reserves were so small that
Trengganu should get only about RM50 million ... but now it is RM800
million and if oil prices continue to rise, (it may grow) to RM1
billion." Now you know what happens when an opposition-controlled state
gets control of that money: it would make the National Front look
stupid. (That is inexcusable; on the Prime Minister and his cabinet is
allowed to make the National Front look stupid) That when it had
control of that oil wealth, it frippered that into grandoise projects
and private pockets.

But the Prime Minister's anger is misplaced. When Petronas moved
into the oil and gas fields off Trengganu, the then Trengganu mentri
besar, Tan Sri Wan Mokhtar Ahmad, who certainly is not from PAS, who
fought hardest for a fair deal for his state; the state transferred
control of its natural resources and expected fair compensation. If the
Prime Minister did not agreee, Petronas could not now have the funds to
pay civil service salaries, as it has for most of this year. What got
Trengganu its petroleum royalties was statecraft, not Prime Ministerial
compa#sion: it did not matter is Trengganu was rich or poor; the
petroleum royalties had to be paid, come what may. Petronas also lost
interest in developing the huge gas deposits off Kelantan when PAS
routed the National Front to gain control of the state in 1990.

That irrelevant mentri besar of Perlis, Tan Sri Shahidan Ka#sim,
remains the performing money to the administration. He has consulted
that eminent firm of lawyers, whose senior partner goes on holidays with
the chief justice and attorney-general and writes judgements for judges,
to challenge the royalty payments to Trengganu. He forgets that he
voted with the National Front in Parliament when the royalty bill was
pa#sed. I do not remember him of having raised any objection. He
believes Perlis is entitled to the money Trengganu gets; the state
treasury is so broke that it cannot afford the RM150 ringgit cigars he

But more is at stake than petroleum royalties. The Prime Minister
insists he made a mistake about the petroleum royalties. But making
mistakes in public policy is his and his administration's forte:
Privatising power generation to YTL Power; IWK to that international
business man of unquestioned repute; to re-privatise it to a former
news vendor and chauffeur; to destroy the banking system; to rescue
cronies, siblings and courtiers who went through their billion-ringgit
government a#sets handed over on a silver plate as monkey through a
boquet of flowers; mega projects which sinks the country into
irrevocable, irresistible debt; destroy He Who Must Be Destroyed At All
Cost as he tries to.

The Malaysians applaud this waste by regularly electing it to power
election after election. So they cannot complain. But when the Prime
Minister tries to fine tune constitutional provisions because he thinks
the wrong party is in power in a state, he brings federal-state
relations to a boil and raise even National Front members, especially
from UMNO to revolt. The Prime Minister keeps dissent limited to his
administration; if he takes on Trengganu, as he threatens to with this
stupid analysis of petroleum royalties, chaos would result. But what I
cannot understand is why this sudden death wish to be driven out of town
at the fag end of his career?

M.G.G. Pillai

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