SAPP: Abolish Cabotage Policy
Kota Kinabalu, Jun 4,
SAPP Treasurer General Datuk Wong Yit Ming in a statement said that
the policy hinders the growth of manufacturing in Sabah and Sarawak.
Sabah will always have to "play catch up" with those from peninsula
and this will pose a major challenge to the success of the Sabah
Development Corridor, he said.
"The policy deprives Sabah's industries, the competitive ability to
survive let alone compete with her peninsula counterparts. Unless
the policy is abolished, there is no way for us to compete fairly,
openly and ideally due to the uneven playing field," he said.
"The cost of doing business in Sabah will be higher due to the high
freight charges especially for imported raw materials as they would
have to be transshipped via Port Kelang contributing to double
handling cost," said Wong.
"Currently food products (such as rice) in Sabah are much higher
than in peninsula. Why must poor people in Sabah pay more and
subsidise the rich in peninsula?
The cabotage has contributed to the high price of essential goods,"
"Adding salt to the hardship faced by Sabahans, even pharmaceutical
products such as Panadol are more expensive than in peninsula.
"This makes a mockery of the State Government's plan to achieve zero
poverty by 2010," he said.
The lopsided policy benefits majority shipping companies based in
peninsula, while Malaysians in Sabah are made to pay more to satisfy
the needs of the so-called shipping industry. He said this policy
should not have been there even from the beginning.
It has been exploited to form a cartel, which is a way to monopolise
the business and benefit only the major players, he said. Wong said
the State Government is obliged to use its influence with the
Federal Government to open up the ports around Sabah.
"This can be done by granting a special exemption from the Cabotage
Policy for Sabah. The Sepangar Bay Container Port Terminal should be
made a National Load Centre in Sabah.
"They should also resolve the high costs of imports and exports in
Sabah to a reasonable levy by the providers of port services," he
said, adding that in their intention to develop, protect the port
and shipping services and industry, the Government should subsidise
vessels plying between East Malaysia and Peninsular Malaysia in
order to the lower the freight charges and benefit the people of
"The Government should not do it at the expense of East Malaysians
through the lopsided cabotage policy," he said.