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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bridge solution to Labuan's economic woes, says Yong

KOTA KINABALU - The Sabah Progressive Party's (SAPP) objection to the proposed barter trade between Labuan and the Philippines has nothing to do with the Labuan Chinese Chamber of Commerce (LCCC) but everything to do with the mistreatment of Sabah by the Federal authorities.
Its President Datuk Yong Teck Lee, in replying to a statement made by LCCC Chairman Datuk Wong Kii Yii, said his statement was to query why the Government imposed a security ban on barter trade from Sabah to the Southern Philippines.

"Yet, the Government is going to reopen barter trade, reportedly for businessmen from Peninsular Malaysia, at Labuan.

I have every right to comment on such security and trade matters," he said here, Tuesday.

Yong said he had also visited Labuan, which he called a dead town and compared it to other east coast towns of mainland Sabah, except Semporna which plays host to thousands of tourists.

"I have visited every tourist destination in Labuan and I must say that Labuan on its own is not attractive for foreign tourists.

"The solution to Labuan's economic malaise is to build the Labuan Bridge and incorporate Labuan as part of the Sabah mainland economy, especially its tourism potential synergised with the tourist attractions at the Klias Peninsula," he said.

Yong said the proposal by the then Malaysian Economic Advisor Tun Daim Zainuddin to have a 'Klias Peninsula Master Plan' to strengthen the economy of Labuan, Beaufort, Sipitang and Kuala Penyu can still be revived.

"But the failures of the Federal Government to develop Labuan and the possibility of abolishing Labuan's tax free status has caused deep anxiety to Labuan.

"The ultimate solution to Labuan's misery is to return Labuan to its home, Sabah," he said.

On Aug 4, Yong said the imminent opening of barter trade at Labuan by businessmen from the peninsula will deal a severe double blow to Sabah.

First, he said, the so-called 'security ban on barter trade' from Sabah's east coast would be rendered totally meaningless.

Then, the permanent loss of the Philippine market for Sabah goods would deal an irreparable loss to the Sabah economy.

Even if cross-border security is restored in the future, he said Sabah would have forever lost its market in the Philippines as its traditional barter trade would be taken over by new players from outside Sabah. - DE

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