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Governance 101: We Need Honour Our Agreements

Agreement Cross Finger

(Are we going to keep crossing fingers when making promises and signing formal agreements? image source:

A promise is a cloud, fulfilment is rain (an Arabian Proverb)

Are we in the habit of breaking agreements so openly now? Breaking promises that we once swear to keep and uphold?

If you have been reading the news or the blogosphere lately, you will notice that there has been some issue with the Federal Government not honouring past agreements. Never mind that it is not the first that this has been done in the open but considering the maturity of the nation and the people who are running the government, it is nothing but shameful.

Petroleum Development Act 1974

This of course relates to the Federal Government refusing to hand over the oil royalty (estimated to be RM1 billion) ever since the State Government came under the opposition.

Calls for payment of the oil royalty by both the state government and other opposition leaders have fallen on deaf ears. Certainly, with the millions in oil royalty, the State Government stands to gain a valuable source of money for state development and other activities.

The Federal Government, in the end, agreed to give part of the royalty in form of goodwill payment (wang ehsan) but the problem was that the said money was channelled through the Federal Government agents in the state instead of the State Government itself.

UMNO Statesman Tengku Razaleigh was reported to say:-

The Government has now responded to Kelantan’s claim to a portion of the profits derived from petroleum resources extracted offshore by PETRONAS.

Its response violates the letter and the intent of a solemn agreement signed between each State Government and PETRONAS under the Petroleum Development Act.

That agreement is made out in language simple enough for a schoolboy to understand, in both Bahasa Malaysia and English.

The Constitutional rights of the people of Kelantan are denied.

It is clear that what the Federal Government is trying to do is nothing but a political move to deny the opposition a rich source of income and is hoping that with less development slated for the state the people will vote the BN government back.

The large disparity in oil royalty being paid to Kelantan and other BN controlled states like Sabah and Sarawak is too obvious to be ignored. The Federal Government’s denial of rights to the Kelantan State does not look too good for Malaysia as well.

If there is no positive reaction from the Federal Government, the State Government should take the matter to the court for the law to take its due course. This is because when there is a breakdown of upholding commitments and promises in writing, the next avenue would be to the courts.

Haadyai Peace Agreement 1989

This has been another issue that has been bugging the Federal Government ever since the ex-CPM leader, Chin Peng expressed his intention to come back to Malaysia. There has been a lot of resistance from many quarters on this intention and thus far, the Government has denied any access to Chin Peng.

But here is a question for the Government – if Chin Peng is certainly evil and not worth the forgiveness of the people for all the things he did during the Emergency, then why in the hell the Government went and agreed to the Peace Agreement? Certainly, the power of CPM has been dwindling since the 1960s and Malaysia could have easily wiped out the remnants of the active CPM members from causing many problems. Over time, CPM would have died a natural death and the Government need not fulfil any agreements.

The Sun asked the same question:-

The government had signed the Haadyai peace accord in 1989 allowing him and his people the right to return on laying down their arms. Is the government legally right to renege on its agreement signed 20 years ago?

If so doesn’t it stand to lose the trust of the international community on its readiness to honour all other forms of agreements?

The former inspector-general of police Abdul Rahim Noor was even reported to say:-

Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) leader Chin Peng, 85, has a right to return to Malaysia at least on a social visit

Lim Kit Siang questioned why Chin Peng has singled out when under the Peace Accord, it was reported that almost 330 ex-CPM members were allowed to return to Malaysia and was even paid RM8,000 for laying down their arms.

In the same sense, how will the international community react if Malaysia enters or negotiate other peace accords? Are we going to be known as the country that easily breaks and violates agreements due to political reasons?

Tengku Razaleigh cast the same question:-

This casts serious doubt on the Malaysian Government’s respect for the sanctity of contracts and the rule of law

The ball is in the Federal Government’s court now – it will be best if they abide by the norms of agreement and contracts

Read Also

Hatyai peace accord – a benchmark if only it is honoured

In violation of the Federation Agreement

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