Bintulu Port: Masing entrusted by state to study constitutional rights on land asset

KUCHING, Sept 4: Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) information chief Andy Lawrence came out in defence of Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing following criticisms of his remarks on the establishment and operation of the Bintulu Port by the federal government.

He emphasised that Masing, who is the Minister of Infrastructure and Ports Development, was entrusted by the state government to study on Sarawak’s constitutional rights on state’s land (asset), which the federal government were administrating over the years.

“It is not an act sanctioned by himself alone,” he said in a media release today.

“Should the outcome of the study reveals that the port is constitutionally and legally established, there shall be no further discussion on it thereupon,” he added.

Andy said he was puzzled as to why Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How seemed intimidated by Masing’s statement.

The initiative of this study, he pointed out, was not meant to scrutinise or criticise the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration’s decision, but rather to check on the constitutional implications to the state and to come out with an enhancement proposal to the state government, if necessary.

“We can’t move forward if we are too busy blaming the previous administrator,” he said.

“The effort by the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government is to ensure that the people of Sarawak shall benefit from the port, nothing more or less, and not to incite hatred between state-federal government relationship,” he continued.

If the effort by the GPS government was for the betterment of Sarawak, Andy opined that See should not shoot down Masing’ idea, if he was really a person who advocates Sarawak rights.

See has described Masing’s statement as reckless and that it lacked comprehension in regards to the constitutional of the Bintulu Port Authority (BPA) and legal status of the subject land.

He also opined that it was unwise for Masing to use unfounded and mistaken understanding of the matter to incite and fuel anti-federal sentiment in Sarawak.

He reminded that all the BN parliamentarians from Sarawak had fully supported the passing of the two bills culminating to the establishment of the BPA, in December 1978 and December 1980 respectively.

“The DCM is actually accusing all the BN MPs from Sarawak for supporting those bills that are against the interests of Sarawak and Sarawakians. The DCM should have consulted his former colleagues to better understand the issue,” See was quoted in a statement.

On Tuesday (Sept 2), Transport Minister Anthony Loke had said that it will not be an easy move for Sarawak to take over the authority of Bintulu Port as it was established through an act of law in Parliament.

In response, Masing pointed out that there were laws passed in Parliament which needed the endorsement of Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN).

He cited the Sea Territorial Act, for instance, which was passed by Parliament but cannot be implemented in Sarawak without the endorsement of DUN. — DayakDaily