MIRI, June 2:

The federal government will give utmost consideration to Sarawak’s request for higher oil and gas royalties, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The Prime Minister said the federal government had no qualms in negotiating on any matters with the state government over its interests.

“The federal government will give utmost consideration to this matter (request for higher oil and gas royalties),” he said at the Malaysia Gawai Dayak Open House 2014 at Dataran Kipas here tonight.

Sarawak Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud and Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem were present.

Adenan had raised the matter in his speech earlier.

The Sarawak state assembly sitting in May approved a special motion to request that royalties from the state’s oil and gas revenue be increased from 5% to 20%.

Najib said the federal government’s consideration was not only on the request for higher oil and gas royalties, but also higher funds for the state.

The Prime Minister said Sarawak had achieved three forms of successes since its independence through the formation of Malaysia over the last 50 years.

He cited them as developing a multiracial society that featured the characteristics of harmony and social cohesion, political stability and continuous sustainable development.

“I always have a soft spot for Sarawak and I want Sarawak to continue to be progressive, developed and successful.”

‘Principle of non-use of force’

Meanwhile, on the matter of resolving issues in the South China Sea, Najib said the rule of law must reign supreme.

The Prime Minister said he was “concerned and deeply worried” that measures taken by the engaged parties to affirm their declared rights, no matter how small they might be, would only complicate matters and would not be in anyone’s interest in the long run.

“We must hold steadfast to the principles of non-use of force and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

“There should not be any action taken to further aggravate the situation and increase tensions,” he said in his speech that was read out by Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the opening of the 28th Asia Pacific Roundtable in Kuala Lumpur tonight. Najib, however, expressed confidence that “the bonds of friendship that binds us are stronger and more durable that the differences that divide us”.

The parties involved should not stray from the proven path of dialogue and the peaceful resolution of conflicts, he said, adding he remained hopeful that good sense would prevail.

Najib expressed Malaysia’s strong commitment towards the recent Joint Declaration of the Asean Defence Ministers on Defence Cooperation towards a Peaceful and Prosperous Asean Community.

“It’s only with the assurance of peace that it would be possible for this region to attract investments, encourage innovation and create jobs for its people.”

Najib noted that Southeast Asian nations wanted peace, prosperity and predictability besides being independent, strong and economically vibrant.

He also touched on the need to enhance cooperation, like the one seen in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370.

“Countering the threat of terrorism, for example, requires a great deal of intelligence-sharing and coordination among our security agencies.”

Najib alluded to the recent detention by Malaysian police of a foreign nationals believed to be involved in planning terrorist attacks on foreign consulates in India, including the American consulate-general in Chennai.

Elaborating on the disappearance of MH370 with 239 people on board on March 8, Najib said never before had people witnessed such intense cooperation between so many countries in this region.

“Although MH370 has not yet been found — and I’m confident that we will eventually find it — our joint and coordinated efforts have already shown the value of harnessing the collective strengths of countries in times of need.”

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