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Friday, January 22, 2016

Wong: Cabotage Policy does not benefit SS people, only ship owners

KOTA KINABALU - Federation of Sabah Industries (FSI) Honorary Life President Wong Khen Thau has clarified, in the wake of criticisms, and denied that his organisation was “demonizing” the National Cabotage Policy (NCP).

“This (demonizing) would not benefit FSI or the people of Sabah and Sarawak.”

FSI, he added, had a duty to express the feelings of its members who were mostly SMIs (Small and Medium Industries) and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises).

He was commenting on statements by Tawau exporter Richard Wong and Acting Bersama President Phillip Among that the NCP was a necessity. Among, in his statement, also urged the Federal Government to subsidise cargo and/or shipping, as the case may be, between Port Klang and ports in Borneo.

“We have to compare apples with apples. The figures given by Richard on the sea freight from Port Klang to ports in Sabah and vice versa are inaccurate and unreliable,” said Wong. “Also, it’s not a myth to say that ships can call directly at Sabah ports.”

“Ships used to call at Sabah ports during the colonial era i.e. before the imposition of the NCP. The NCP has in fact seen the shrinking of the shipping industry in the last three decades.”

If foreign banks can be allowed in Malaysia, continued Wong, there’s no reason why foreign ships cannot be allowed to ply Malaysian waters.

“Traders in Sabah are not greedy as Richard claims. If prices are higher in Sabah and Sarawak, it’s because of the NCP and not traders profiteering.”

“Do not insult the intelligence of the people. They know better the crux of the problems facing the industry in Sabah and what it takes to resolve them.”

FSI President Mohd Basri Abdul Gafar, chipping in, said that his association was “untiring” in its stand against the NCP. “The NCP does not benefit the people of Sabah or industries. It only benefits a handful of ship owners.”

He disclosed that FSI had set up a Task Force on the NCP, headed by Wong who had fought against the policy during the 16 years he headed the association. “Many countries are doing away with the cabotage policy. Europe, China and the Philippines are all taking steps in this direction. The US is relaxing.”

The most powerful argument against the NCP, said Wong, was the fact that it does not help the local shipping industry to grow. “Why keep something that’s not only retarded but a burden on others?”

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