Bintulu Port is ours, says DUN speaker

Sarawak Legislative Assembly Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar. —

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Sept 13: Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar said the Bintulu Port belongs to Sarawak as the Port Authorities Ordinance 1961 “has never been repealed and remains a good law”.

He viewed that the port is an interface between land and sea. Being situated on an island with vast natural resources going through the Bintulu Port, the port has become Sarawak’s lifeblood and jugular.

“The importance of ports of Sarawak transcends beyond the polemic and dichotomy of who actually owns them and it is transparently clear who has jurisdiction over Bintulu Port,” said Mohd Asfia, who is also chairman of the Sarawak Consultative Committee on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

He was speaking at a press conference after chairing the consultative committee meeting at DUN, here, today.

He pointed out that Article 9SB(l)(a) of Federal Constitution reads: ‘In the case of the States of Sabah and Sarawak (a) the supplement to List 11 set out in the Ninth Schedule shall be deemed to form part of the State List, and the matters enumerated therein shall be deemed not to be included in the Federal List or Concurrent List’;

He said the Article must be read together with Article 76(1)(C) which reads: ‘Parliament may take laws respect to any matter enumerated in the State List, but only as follows, that is to say: (c) if so requested by the Legislative Assembly of any State.’

“The Dewan Undangan Negeri has neither relinquished its right over Bintulu Port nor has the Dewan Undangan Negeri consented to the established of the Bintulu Port,” he explained.

He further pointed out that Sarawak has its own Port Authorities Ordinance 1961 for the establishment of Ports and Habours in Sarawak.

Section 3(1) of the Port Authorities Ordinance 1961 reads: “There shall be a Port Authority for every port specified in the First Schedule.”

Section 3(2) states: “The Governor in Council may, by order amend the First Schedule.”

Section 12(1) states: “The Governor may appoint a Central Ports Board consisting of a chairman and such other members as he may think fit.”

Section 12(3) states: “The Governor may refer to the Central Ports Boards for its advice any matter relating to the policy or efficient operation of any port, or to the coordination of any two or more ports, or any other matter relating either to any individual port or to ports in general.”

“The Port Authorities Ordinance 1961 has never been repealed and remains good law,” continued Mohd Asfia, who stated the position of the Sarawak government on the dispute between the state and federal government over Bintulu Port.

He said this was to clarify that Sarawak did have a rightful claim over the port, which Transport Minister Anthony Loke had raised doubt on, following the recent statement by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing that Sarawak was looking into the legitimacy of ownership of the port.

“The state put the legal and constitutional position first, 19(B)(1)(a), and that must be read together with 76. We have our own port ordinance 1961, which the chief minister said we would review and update and strengthen (the ordinance).

“Bintulu is ours, although (it is) declared to be federal. Bintulu is ours,” he continued.

He said the argument of Loke and PKR Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How that ‘the port has been declared a federal port’ may look to be very strong, but Sarawak has a strong position. — DayakDaily