March 20, 2012: Luyang State Assemblywoman, Melanie Chia chided the Federal Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha for saying that there is a misconception and misperception among the people in Sabah on the country’s cabotage policy.
“From what he was saying, the Minister obviously did not understand the issue raised repeatedly by the business communities in Sabah on the cabotage policy which was introduced since 1980! And for him to say that we do not understand the cabotage policy is really belittling Malaysians in Sabah!”
Businesses in Sabah have to incur higher costs due to the extra shipping costs which they have to incur due to the implementation of the cabotage policy. This policy has directly and indirectly resulted in the higher costs of goods for Malaysians in Sabah. It is also a policy which trade associations, especially exporters in the State, put their fingers on for increasing the prices of exports from Sabah to oversea countries rendering our goods not competitive to vie with competitors overseas.
The Transport Minister should at least have meetings and discussions with the trade associations in the State before he made such utterance which hurts the intelligence of the people in Sabah. As the minister in charge of transportation policy in the country, it is unthinkable that he does not seem to know the request of the business community on the subject of the cabotage policy! He should resign and discharge himself and the duties and responsibilities as the Transport Minister if he does not know his job!
Melanie further reiterated that the Minister should stop protecting the few companies privy in the national shipping industry. As a result of this, Malaysian in Sabah not have to pay for more expensive goods and our manufacturers who export to oversea markets having a tougher time in competition because of their higher prices.
SAPP wants the cabotage policy to be abolished so that all vessels, be it Malaysians or foreign, to be able to call at all ports in Malaysia. Sabah would be able to benefit from this especially with the strategic location of Kota Kinabalu in the Far East. If the Federal Government is serious in the development of Sabah, it should consider the plea of the business community without further delay.