‘Exemption will boost trans­port in­dus­try, peo­ple’s lives’

New Straits Times - - News -

PUTRAJAYA: The cab­o­tage pol­icy exemption for Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan will en­sure the growth of Sabah’s and Sarawak’s trans­port in­dus­tries.

Trans­port Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, in laud­ing Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak’s an­nounce­ment of the exemption yes­ter­day, said the min­istry had been en­gag­ing the Sabah govern­ment, its in­dus­tries and rel­e­vant par­ties in do­ing the best for the peo­ple in Sabah and Sarawak.

“As a car­ing and re­spon­si­ble govern­ment, the cab­i­net had re­cently reached this de­ci­sion which is in line with the govern­ment’s ef­fort to im­prove the liv­abil­ity of the peo­ple in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan,” he said in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

The exemption, he pointed out, would cover four ar­eas of ship­ments — from any ports in the penin­sula to any ports in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan, and vice versa for cargo trans­port ser­vices, be­tween ports in Sabah, be­tween ports in Sarawak, and that the exemption does not af­fect ser­vices other than freight trans­port ser­vices.

Liow said the min­istry was com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ously con­duct en­gage­ments and dis­cus­sions with rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers, say­ing that the wel­fare of the peo­ple of Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan was of para­mount im­por­tance to the Fed­eral Govern­ment, as were other parts of Malaysia.

“It is my wish to see Sabah, Sarawak, Labuan and their peo­ple con­tin­u­ing to pros­per, as I strongly be­lieve in their huge po­ten­tial.”

Na­jib, in an­nounc­ing the exemption yes­ter­day, said it would take ef­fect on June 1.

The de­ci­sion on the pol­icy exemption was made based on rec­om­men­da­tions by the state govern­ment and Barisan Na­sional lead­ers.

Sabah Spe­cial Tasks Min­is­ter Datuk Teo Chee Kang said the de­ci­sion would mean that for­eign ves­sels would from June 1, be al­lowed to pick up cargo from Sabah and ship them to an­other port within Malaysia.

“When they are per­mit­ted to do so, there will be com­pe­ti­tion with lo­cal shiplines in the do­mes­tic routes and with such com­pe­ti­tion, we can ex­pect lower freight charges in the long run.

“How­ever, whether we can at­tract more for­eign and lo­cal ships to call at our ports will de­pend very much on the vol­ume of car­gos they can pick up from our ports be­cause if the ships leave our ports with half-empty con­tain­ers, I can­not see how freight charges could be re­duced,” he said, adding that the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the cab­o­tage pol­icy 30 years ago had only served to di­vert ship­ping from the then trade routes.

Teo said the long-term so­lu­tion to the dis­crep­ancy of the prices of goods be­tween the penin­sula and Sabah and Sarawak would be to up­grade and pro­mote the Sa­pan­gar Bay Con­tainer Port into a re­gional tran­ship­ment hub, where goods were shipped in and re­dis­tributed to other parts of the re­gion.

“This is what our state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments had planned to do, with the Fed­eral Govern­ment hav­ing ap­proved RM1.027 bil­lion for up­grad­ing of the port.”

Sabah Bu­mi­put­era Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Datuk Mohd Has­nol Ayub said the an­nounce­ment was one that many in­dus­try play­ers had been wait­ing for the last 20 years.

“It shows that the Fed­eral Govern­ment lis­tens to the peo­ple.”

Sabah United Chi­nese Cham­bers of Com­merce deputy pres­i­dent Lo Su Fui shared this sen­ti­ment.

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