By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Dec 11: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing blames both MASwings and the Ministry of Transport (MOT) for the ceasing of operations of eight domestic routes in Sarawak and Sabah effective Jan 1.
Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation, said with MASwings reducing its flights in Sarawak, rural development would be affected.
“It is unfortunate that MASwings is ceasing operations for eight destinations in Sarawak and Sabah. It means rural areas will be deprived of air services,” Masing told DayakDaily today.
He said MASwings should look further than just monetary considerations.
“Apart from dollars and cents’ reasoning, MASwings should consider the needs of rural Sarawak and Sabah. We must understand that air connectivity is critical to the development of the rural region. It is for this reason that Sarawak is developing Sg Tunoh (Kapit Division) and Bukit Sadok (Betong Division) airports to allow export of rural products to international markets,” said Masing.
He added that with MASwings scaling down its operation in Sarawak, it would affect the Sarawak government’s plan in building the two airports.
Apart from MASwings, Masing also took aim at MOT for ignoring the needs of rural Sarawak.
“MOT is equally responsible for ignoring rural air connectivity. MOT shouldn’t concentrate only on urban areas,” said Masing.
The eight affected domestic routes are Kuching-Sibu, Kuching-Bintulu, Kuching-Miri, Kota Kinabalu-Miri, Kota Kinabalu-Sibu, Kota Kinabalu-Bintulu, Kota Kinabalu-Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu-Tawau.
MASwings, in a statement, said the decision to scale down operations had been decided by the federal government, represented by MOT. — DayakDaily