Oil is not well over royalty issue

Oil is not well over royalty issue

TUMPAT - Does the oil royalty issue affect local voters here? The answers from most give the impression that they don't seem to be too bothered about it.

After all, it is not that such payment, if made, would see them laughing all the way to the bank.

However, what is important to the people here is, which version of the story - Barisan Nasional's or PAS' - is closest to the truth.

As Che Soh Che Mat, 58, of Kampung Ketil puts it: "Politicians talk all the time. They will say what they think we want to hear. I can only hope that they will consider telling us the truth."

Oil royalty has long been a contentious issue between Barisan and PAS in Kelantan.

For years, the political rivals have been trying to score points and votes by convincing those who are willing to listen that their version is the truth.

In the campaigning for the Pengkalan Kubor by-election, both sides are again accusing one another of lying to the 24,036 voters on the question of oil royalty payment.

PAS is sticking to saying that the Federal Government had promised to give oil royalty to the state but until today, had failed to pay the supposedly accumulated RM12billion (S$4.7billion).

Its leaders have accused Barisan of "robbing and depriving" Kelantan folk of better quality of life, which the money could have provided them with.

Kuala Krai MP Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli said Kelantan was the rightful beneficiary of the royalty, adding that the money should be used to benefit the public at large and not for "selected individuals".

Barisan has gone on the offensive right from the start of the campaigning, determined to make its position on the issue clear once and for all.

During its ceramah, Barisan has been telling the people that oil drilling is being carried out beyond the state's three nautical miles boundary and, as such, the state was not entitled to the 5 per cent royalty payment.

Barisan leaders have been stressing at gatherings that despite the ineligibility, the Federal Government had been channelling money to the state via the Federal Development Department (JPP) and the Kelantan Islamic Religious Council (Maik).

They said more than 260,000 people in the state had benefited from the distribution of aid and financial assistance, amounting to RM121million.

"Telling the people that we owe the state RM12billion is slander.

"PAS is an Islamist party, so its leaders should know that slander is worse than committing murder. But we are confident that the truth will prevail," said Kelantan Umno chief Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

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