MIRI: Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) welcomes the announcement of the cabotage policy review in Sabah by the Ministry of Transport to boost its economic growth.
Its secretary-general and Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting Chew Yew said the announcement made by its minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai assured that the federal government would continue to attend to Sabah’s concerns and to provide the best economic environment for the state.
Speaking at Sabah Port Forum in Kota Kinabalu on Thursday, Liow said the government was currently reviewing the cabotage policy for further liberalisation mechanisms to ensure affordable cost of goods and services in Sabah.
He said there had been a long-standing debate on the root causes behind the higher cost of many consumer goods in Sabah and Sarawak compared to that in Peninsular Malaysia, due to Malaysia’s cabotage policy.
Ting said it was prudent for the government to engage the stakeholders and business community for feedback in reviewing the policy affecting them in Sarawak.
“It is good to hear them out and I always believe that the business people and stakeholders know what is best,” he said.
He said most Sarawakians generally felt that the cabotage policy translated into extra cost and burden for them.
Many calls have been made in Sabah and Sarawak for the cabotage policy implemented by the Ministry of Transport on Jan 1, 1980 to be reviewed or abolished to address the higher prices of goods in the two states.
Under the policy, shipping vessels from anywhere in the world are required to berth at Port Klang to undergo transhipment procedures before the goods are sent over to Sarawak and Sabah via feeder vessels.
Due to the charges imposed by these feeder vessels, the prices of goods arriving at our shores would be more. Sending a car from Port Klang to here, for example, would cost at least RM2,000, which reportedly is the normal rate charged by shipping companies.
Sadong Jaya assemblyman Aidel Lariwoo, in an interview with The Borneo Post in 2015, said the policy had also spurred the growth of shipping cartels that were monopolising the shipping industry, putting the people in Sarawak and Sabah on the losing end.
He also questioned the logic for Sarawakians having to bear the extra logistics cost when the state was situated near major shipping routes especially those linking China, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Sabahans have been vociferous in opposing this policy, including Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, the STAR Sabah chief and Bingkor assemblyman, telling the Sabah government to take a serious look into the cause of the ‘failure’ of the state’s manufacturing sector and its low GDP contribution instead of blaming others.
The Federation of Sabah Industries and its past president, Datuk Seri Wong Ken Thau, have done their homework and have voiced their opinions and suggestions on the abolishment of the NCP so that the manufacturing and industrial sectors in Sabah would not stifle from further growth.
Source: The Borneo Post