Hornbill Unleashed

June 6, 2017

Sarawak, Sabah shipowners: Cabotage removal could compromise national security

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:02 AM

SSSA secretary-general Renco Yong warned that smuggling of goods subsidised by the Malaysian government may also occur if the cabotage policy is abolished. — Reuters picMalaysia’s national security could be threatened if the federal government scraps the cabotage policy, the Sarawak Sabah Shipowners Association (SSSA) has claimed.

SSSA secretary-general Renco Yong asserted that removing the decades-old cabotage policy would allow foreign ships and their crews to stay in Malaysian waters for as long as they want.

He said each foreign ship would be like a “small foreign country residing within Sarawak and Sabah”, with Malaysia having no jurisdiction over their crew members without the cabotage policy in place.

“While they are aboard their ships, they are under the rule of law of their own country. They may come aboard our shores to do anything such as working or spying. They only have to return to their ships at night. Is that what the government wants?” he was quoted telling local newspaper The Borneo Post.

He noted the cabotage policy required 75 per cent of Sarawakian ships to be crewed by locals, and that these ships may instead hire fully foreign crew for cheaper wages if the policy was scrapped.

He said it was important for locals to be hired as crewmen and to be trained as seamen to serve as “backups” in wartime, including to rescue, defend or transport during war.

He also warned that smuggling of goods subsidised by the Malaysian government may also occur if the cabotage policy is abolished.

“Without cabotage policy, foreign ships can call at as many ports as they want in Sarawak.  While they are here, they may go from port to port to buy up our subsidised commodities such as sugar, rice, flour and petrol as well as diesel. They will then bring these commodities back to their countries to be sold and make a profit.”

“This is something that our government must consider before making a final decision on whether it wants to abolish the cabotage policy for good,” he was quoted saying.

He insisted that the cabotage policy should not be blamed for the price gap between goods sold in Peninsular Malaysia and in east Malaysia.

“Due to competition from foreign carriers which we are already experiencing and the rising cost of living, local shippers have already lowered our charges by 30 per cent from RM900 to RM600 per 20-foot container five years ago.  When we reduced our freight charges, did it make any impact on prices of goods?”

“And if businessmen think that we are charging too high.  Let us see what happens when all local ship owners call it a day after the abolishment of cabotage policy and all local businessmen have to depend on foreign ships to carry their products,” he also said.

Last month, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that the cabotage policy would be further liberalised and allow all cargo transport vessels to ply any port in Peninsular Malaysia to any port in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

The cabotage exemption, beginning June 1, means foreign ships — usually larger built vessels — will be able to transport cargo domestically.

Under the existing cabotage policy, foreign ships are allowed to drop cargo at any port in the country but are not allowed to move them within the country. If a box is unloaded at a Sabah port, only a domestic freight company can then move it to Port Klang or another port outside the state, and vice versa.

Source : The Malay Mail Online


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