TAWAU July 9, 2012: Member of parliament Datuk Chua Soon Bui has made a call for the federal government to subsidise the freight costs to reduce the prices of consumer goods in Sabah as well as to standardise them with those of Peninsular Malaysia.
Chua claimed that the issue had been highlighted numerous times in the past, but yet there has been neither any affirmative action nor solution to the problem in sight.
Meanwhile, the people in the state continue to suffer in silence for the high price of goods.
Chua said yesterday, “if the Federal government could afford to subsidise toll charges in the peninsula to the tune of billions of ringgits, there is no reason whatsoever why subsidising the high shipping cost of goods to Sabah cannot be implemented,” adding, that the costlier consumer goods in the state is directly attributable to the high shipping cost as a result of cabotage.
She stressed that subsidy would only be appropriate and fair to the people of Sabah since the Federal government has until today refused to abolish the cabotage policy which has contributed to the high cost of doing business and the high cost of living in Sabah.
Touching on the Transport Ministry’s notion that the differential in the prices of goods in the peninsula and Sabah should not be entirely blamed on the cabotage policy, Chua responded by saying that “the onus is on the ministry to convince Malaysians in Sabah, to provide detailed breakdown of the freight charges and their impacts on the cost of consumer goods in Sabah.”
She also criticized her fellow member of parliament from Sabah Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri for dismissing the cabotage policy as a non-issue, when the latter gave a reply to her question in Parliament on June 26.
She described Abdul Rahim’s remarks ‘as inconsiderate and an insult to the people of Sabah’ when he said that the issue was merely ‘played up’ by certain quarters.
“As a Sabahan, the Kudat member of parliament should have realised that the policy introduced in 1980 is a real and pressing issue which remains the underlying cause for the high price of consumer goods prices to thus contribute to a high cost of living in Sabah,” she said.
“The Ministry of Transport was evasive and reluctant in detailing out the outcome of further liberalization on the cabotage policy, while the people of Sabah continue to be burdened by it all,” she stressed.
Even the business community in Sabah, particularly those in the manufacturing industry, lamented the implementation of the policy and had even called for its revocation through the Federation of Sabah Manufacturers (FSM), she said.
It is obvious that the Federal government has no intention at all to address the high transportation costs faced by the business sectors in Sabah and Sarawak despite Abdul Rahim having said that a special committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muyhiddin Yassin, but nothing has so far been given, especially on the liberalization of the cabotage, Chua said.