TUMPAT – Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the Barisan Nasional (BN) will use the Pengkalan Kubor by-election to explain the oil royalty issue.
He said BN will use the opportunity to refute slander that Petronas had yet to pay oil royalty amounting to RM12 billion to the Kelantan government.
Speaking to reporters after the nomination process for the Pengkalan Kubor by-election at the Tumpat Land and District Office here Friday, he said the BN would explain to the people of Kelantan that the oil royalty issue was slander by the opposition against the federal government.
“I wish to clarify that the accusations being hurled (on oil royalty) are slander and serious.
“Petronas is a government owned company that practises transparency and accountability. The area (for oil exploration) entails cooperation with Thailand and the distance is more than three nautical miles, which means it does not belong to the (Kelantan) state government,” he said.
Muhyiddin, who is also BN deputy chairman, also challenged PAS to investigate from all angles and furnish specific proof to its claim that Petronas and the federal government did not pay the RM12 billion in oil royalty to Kelantan.
“We are open to this and they can check wherever they want and raise any doubts with us,” he said.
Despite the accusations, he said the federal government as a caring government had agreed to extend “wang ehsan” (compassionate aid) to Kelantan which now totalled RM140 million.
He said the federal goverment and Petronas before this had denied oil royalty was due to Kelantan and as such hoped PAS would stop make baseless accusations on the matter because this was a big sin in Islam.
“They blame us and make us look as though we are the bad guys. We have nothing to hide and as I said, they can make checks with Petronas on this,” he added.
Meanwhile, Muhyiddin said he was confident BN was capable of retaining the set in the by-election, polling of which is on Sept 25.
He said this was based on the high calibre of the BN candidate Mat Razi Mat Ail and firm unity shown by all the Umno and BN members in the area.
“The record of the BN candidate Mat Razi is very excellent terms of his post, academic qualifications and as founder of a pondok religious school and I am convinced he is the most qualified candidate.
“I am also convinced BN voters who voted in the last general election will pick BN again this time, in fact, with a higher majority. We are ready to face a great onslaught from PAS,” he said.
Also in the fray are PAS candidate Wan Rosdi Wan Ibrahim and an independent, Izat Bukhary Ismail Bukhary.
The by-election is being held following the death of incumbent Datuk Noor Zahidi Omar, from BN, on Aug 20.
In the last general election, Noor Zahidi beat Parti Keadilan Rakyat candidate, Shaharun Ibrahim and independent, Izat Bukhary Ismail Mukhary with a majority of 1,736 votes.
Muhyiddin also denied that Noor Zahidi did not do anything to develop Pengkalan Kubor when he was the assemblyman and regarded such accusations as another opposition slander.
“We will make a list of all the deeds of the late Noor Zahidi here. The area is in the Tumpat Parliamentary area which is controlled by PAS, and PAS, by right, should also be responsible for development,” he said.
On the independent candidate, Muhyiddin said hoped his candidacy would not affect BN’s chances and urged the BN machinery not to take lightly the strength of the opposing candidates.
“The independent candidate will have an impact if he can get two to three hundred votes. There was a case of winning by just one vote in Kelantan. Winning by one vote, too, is still winning,” he added. – Bernama