May 4, 2010

Tun Mahathir joins call to reveal oil blocks pact

KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today joined the opposition’s call to the Najib administration to reveal the agreement on ceding an oil-rich area in the South China Sea to Brunei.

The former prime minister last week accused his successor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of signing away rights to oil earnings worth up to RM320 billion to the sultanate for Limbang in Sarawak. Abdullah has denied the charge.

“Wisma Putra should make public the full contents of the agreement signed last year. When we give up what belongs to the people really, the people have a right to know,” Dr Mahathir wrote in his weblog today.

The maverick politician has clashed with Abdullah after handing over power in 2003, quitting Umno and only returning when Datuk Seri Najib Razak took office in April 2009.

“After all, Abdullah’s government made a point about being transparent, implying of course that the previous government was not transparent. So let us see transparency in this decision to surrender the people’s heritage. If as it is claimed we have not lost much, let us know how much is not much,” he said.

Dr Mahathir, an adviser to Petronas, said he was glad the national oil company will take part in the exploration and production of the two blocks “we surrendered to Brunei”.

“That still does not mean we will get much out of the deal.

“At the present price of US$83 per barrel (RM249), one billion barrels would yield US$83 billion or RM249 billion. Forget the likelihood that the oil price would increase in future, how much would we get from Petronas’ involvement in the production,” he said.

He also questioned what happened to the RM270 billion that Petronas paid to Abdullah’s government.

“His apologists will say that I am being petty, that I lost billions too. But concern over a total of over RM500 billion not accounted for or lost cannot be considered petty.

“The Malaysian public is very forgiving. When my questions are met with ‘elegant silence’, that is the end of the story,” he added.

Other opposition leaders have also asked Najib to explain the situation but the prime minister said the deal will be a “win-win” situation for both Malaysia and Brunei.

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