August 26, 2012: IN response to PR's [Pakatan Rakyat] recent policy announcement to abolish the Cabotage Policy, the Minister of Transport [most loyal supporter of the ship owners] on 3 August 2012 and Masa on 4 August 2012, have come up with statements that contain very stale arguments for the continuation of the Cabotage Policy at the expense of Sabah.
As a Sabahan, I wish to respond to them. Their points are not worth the paper they are written on. Simply put, these shipowners, with the support of the Minister, want to be able to continue to extort and exploit Sabahans for another100 years.
They must think that Sabahans are so uneducated and stupid.
After more than 25 years, enough is enough. As the Minister is so insistent and passionate to act against the interest of Sabah, I fear Sabahans may not vote for his part, in particular, in the GE13 and Datuk Seri Najib should know what the consequences wold be for BN at a time when every vote counts and not the handful of votes of shipowners.
I do not wish to belabor the burden of the Cabotage Policy on Sabahans further as the Minister of Transport has already made up his mind that Sabahans are not as important to him as the shipowners.
He has cast his lot with them.
All I want to say is that he and Masa keep on saying that the Cabotage Policy is not the only reason for the high cost of living in Sabah.
If they do not know already, let me tell them that nobody has ever mentioned this is the case.
All we are saying is that the Cabotage Policy is a major culprit behind the high cost of living in Sabah.
The other is the failure of the Federal Government to bring sufficient industrial development to Sabah as a result of which, Sabah cannot produce anything that can be exported to W Malaysia.
This is the reason why there is only one-way container traffic from Klang.
Any sensible person will want the Government to improve the port facilities. But this is not a valid argument to continue imposing the Cabotage Policy on Sabah!
The Minister is not a solution-orientated political leader for Sabah.
There is absolutely no economic justification to say that the Cabotage Policy can continue because there are other contributing factors to high cost of living in Sabah. As a Minister, he should try to solve and remove all these problems.
Otherwise, he should resign and let someone more capable do it!
A more responsible Minister would have provided the necessary leadership for the Malaysian shipping companies to compete regionally and globally instead of ganging up with them on the Cabotage Policy issue.
Also a good Minister with initiative would work tirelessly to seek solutions for Sabahans to enjoy a lower cost of living instead of condemning us to this long drawn out suffering. As far as he is concerned, Sabahans can be imprisoned in this dilemma for the next 100 years for these shipowner "rent seekers".
It is an intellectually superficial and small minded argument to say that abolition of the Cabotage Policy will create a lot of unemployment.
On the contrary, if the ship owners can get out of their "exploitation of Sabahans" syndrome and become competitive in the regional shipping market, they will create plenty of employment and also, at the same time, earn lots of foreign exchange for Malaysia. HK and Singapore ship owners do not have any "domestic-captured Sabahans" to subsidise them but some of them have become the giants in the shipping world.
In fact, Malaysian ship owners prefer to employ Filipinos and Indonesians because they are cheaper.
So what is the big deal about employment for Malaysians?
They also mentioned USA's Cabotage Policy. Again they think Sabahans are stupid. USA has the best road system in the world, the world's most robust anti-monopoly system, many airfreight and shipping companies competing very fiercely for business. Can the Federal Government build a road across the South China Sea so that we can have an alternative to shipping?
If the Minister thinks that the Cabotage Policy is so important to him personally [PM has said he wants a review and his predecessor was going to abolish it!], he should be fair to Sabahans [if he has the political courage!] by proposing to the Federal Cabinet for the burden of the Cabotage Policy to be shared equally among all Malaysians in line with PM's 1Malaysia.
Against the wishes of PM, the Minister has his personal 1Malaysia version - 1Malaysia Cabotage Policy Free for W Malaysia and another 1Malaysia Sabotage Policy for Sabah. I appreciate the PM is working very hard to achieve his vision of 1Malaysia but I don't think some of his Ministers share his vision.
I only feel sorry for the PM as he has been trying hard to convince Sabahans that we are part of Malaysia.
By his various statements of the Minister of Transport, Sabah might as well be part of Mongolia!
This is clearly a case where the Minister is NOT going along with PM's vision and is, in fact, destroying what his boss is trying to build.
I salute those Sabah political leaders who have publicly stated their opposition to the Cabotage Policy as one of the reasons for their resignations and deplore those who are still keeping quiet, knowing that the Cabotage Policy has been an "economic shackle" around our necks for at least two generations already - especially the poor Sabahans.
Most Sabah political leaders who are ever ready to mudsling on silly and petty personal issues but keeping quiet like the proverbial "tombstones" in a cemetery on the Cabotage Policy. Their conscience must be "dead".
How long more will Sabahans have to bear this albatross?
Sabahans have remained much too docile and gullible for far too long.
We must now send a very clear and strong message to our own Sabahan leaders that they must fight for the abolition of cabotage policy and to the PM - he will have a lot of friends and happy supporters in Sabah if he can sack this Minister of Transport.
Otherwise, it will be a pity to hand over votes to Pakatan through no fault of the CM since they have already promised to scrap the policy, among other very tempting goodies, if they topple the BN.
By: John Lo