Hornbill Unleashed

April 27, 2017

Sarawak leaders unite behind call to end cabotage policy

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:01 AM

Lee-Kim-Shin-Awag-Tengah-Lina-SooLeaders from across the political divide have expressed support for Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg’s call to abolish the cabotage policy.

In a live interview with RTM on Monday night, Abang Johari had said it was time to rescind the policy, which requires all goods to enter the state through Port Klang. This causes an increase in the cost of imported goods due to the extra transportation and handling costs.

“Each imported item needs to go through Port Klang. It was suitable before because of the absence of volume due to lack of international trade,” Abang Johari said.

“However, Sarawak now has established international trade and the time has come for the abolishment of the (cabotage) policy, which will enable foreign ships to come to the state.”

The cabotage policy was imposed by the federal government in 1980 to integrate maritime laws under the transport ministry. The abolition of the policy would allow imported goods to Sarawak to come directly from overseas without having to go through Port Klang.

State Minister of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development, Trade and Investment Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the removal of the policy would also lower the cost of Sarawak’s exports.

He said the state had its own port facilities and had sufficient goods of its own, especially wood-based products, that could be exported directly.

Nationwide, Sarawak is the largest exporter of plywood.

“Our industries in the plantation sector are also producing products for export and, therefore, I’m so proud because this issue had become our chief minister’s priority,” Awang Tengah said.

“This will also lead to the reduction of freight charges and prices of goods as there is no more double taxation.”

State Assistant Land and Air Transportation and Safety Minister Lee Kim Shin said the abolition of the cabotage policy would stimulate more trade and commerce activities, besides attracting international shipping lines to Sarawak ports.

He said it would also do away with double handling in addition to lowering shipping costs.

“International shipping lines will look at our ports, especially the Samalaju, Bintulu and Kuching ports, as their new shipping routes,” Lee was quoted as saying by The Borneo Post.

“The policy is a thing of the past. There is a need to be fair to all parties and there should not be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy, as there are peculiarities in East Malaysia,” he said in the report.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Reform Party (STAR) president Lina Soo said the locally-based opposition party fully backed the Sarawak government in this issue.

“Sarawakians have suffered too long under this unfair tax policy which discriminates against Sarawak.

“This is especially so with the low-income earners who have to pay more for our goods under this double taxation regime. And this is before we include the GST,” she said.

Abdul Aziz Isa, special assistant to state DAP leader Chong Chieng Jen, said the move was in tandem with calls by the opposition.

“Pakatan has been talking about abolishing the cabotage policy for years, especially since the 2013 general election. It burdens Sarawakians as we have to pay higher prices for goods as compared with our fellow West Malaysians,” he said.

“The state government has the right to do so, but they (Sarawakians) never got to exercise their rights as enshrined under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

“We support the call by our chief minister to abolish the cabotage policy but I have some doubts that he can walk the talk. The promises, such as the increase in oil royalty, have yet to materialise.

“If the state government has the political will, it will not delay or side-step the issue of the devolution of powers to Sarawak. We do not just want administrative autonomy but real autonomy, even in economic matters,” he said.


Source :  Richard T.W. @ FMT Online


 

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2 Comments »

  1. Bintulu Port is even more strategic, and all shipment to Malaya should be cleared in Bintulu first.

    Comment by tigeryk — April 27, 2017 @ 8:03 PM | Reply

  2. How did the cabotage policy come into being if not for the weak and subservient state governments of Sabah and Sarawak. Obviously, such policy is not good for the two states because it is a monopoly which only benefits cronies of the BN while Sarawakians and Sabahans have to pay for it through more costly shipping cost. It should have been resisted right from the start. To put it bluntly, we were screwed by the Malayans while our political leaders sat on their big ass.

    Comment by apai — April 27, 2017 @ 11:16 AM | Reply


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