Chong questions Lee over logistics issues, rising transportation costs

A collage photo of Lee (left) and Chong exchanging words in the House.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 24: Minister of Transport Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin could not deliver his winding-up speech in the august House smoothly today after being interrupted twice by Padungan member Chong Chieng Jen who sought clarifications on issues related to the logistics industry.

Lee was interjected when highlighting that his Ministry together with other relevant agencies have identified sites to construct lorry parking terminals in Miri, Bintulu, Sibu and Samarahan that would lead to the orderly development of the logistics industry to support the growth of economic activities in Sarawak.

Chong then sought permission to seek clarification on the Sarawak government’s plan to help logistics companies to lower the cost of logistics or transport as the escalating costs in the industry of late has contributed to inflation and increased the cost of living due to rise in cost of goods and so on.

Lee quickly replied, “We have engaged with the logistics stakeholders and are now studying the matter.”

Unsatisfied with the brief answer, Chong could be heard seeking a clearer explanation of the matter but Lee only emphasised that “the Ministry is looking into the matter together with industry players.”

Lee then urged the Deputy Speaker Datuk Idris Buang to advise the Padungan member to sit down as it was not an argument session, saying “I have given my clarification so you (Padungan) sit down and listen carefully. Please sit down, the floor is mine, observe the Standing Order.”

A commotion could be heard from the Opposition bench but Lee insisted on proceeding with his long winding-up speech, adding that “If you behave in that manner, I will not give anymore clarification.”

As Lee was explaining the flight frequencies and ticket price situation in Sarawak, Chong interjected for a second time to seek clarification on the revenue earned from the export of goods from Sarawak to countries like Singapore.

“I remember two to three years ago, the Honorable Premier (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg) mentioned that the State government is trying to transport agriculture products from rural areas to Singapore and others to promote our local products.

“How much tonnage and products exported to Singapore and what are the returns as well as the cost incurred for these transportation and proceeds earned from sales?” Chong asked.

Lee replied that he did not have the breakdown of the figure and a written answer will be provided to Chong.

Moments later, Chong issued a press statement to express his disappointment that Lee has no clue how to help the logistic companies deal with the escalating logistics and transportation costs plaguing the industry in Sarawak.

“High and increasing transportation costs, especially container shipping costs, have been plaguing the industry for more than a year. It is not only affecting the industry players but has directly impacted the price of goods and the costs of businesses in Sarawak. It is hurting everyone.

“Yet, all that the Minister of Transport can tell the DUN is that he is still studying it. This is totally unacceptable,” he said in the statement. — DayakDaily