By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Sept 2: Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing today said his ministry is studying Sarawak’s rights over Bintulu Port under the Federal Constitution.
“Yes. I have been tasked to look into the Bintulu Port. I will do it with the assistance of the relevant authorities. So, I’m studying the Federal Constitution on Sarawak’s rights on Bintulu Port,” he said here today.
Masing who is also Deputy Chief Minister was responding to Transport Minister Anthony Loke who had quashed such suggestion.
Loke had said in Miri today that it will not be an easy move for Sarawak, as the Bintulu port was established through an act of law in Parliament.
“I do not know what they mean by that. How do they take over Bintulu Port? It is a federal port and we have a federal legislation,” Loke had told reporters at the Miri DAP headquarters this morning.
In response, Masing pointed out that there are laws passed in Parliament which needed the endorsement of Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN).
“I’m just saying that the State government is looking at our constitutional rights over our state assets which the federal government are administrating over the years.
“I’m not a lawyer, but there are laws, I believe, passed by Parliament which cannot be implemented in Sarawak without the endorsement of DUN.
“This include the Sea Territorial Act which was recently passed by Parliament. It can’t be implemented in Sarawak because DUN Sarawak didn’t endorse it.
“The Federal laws which the Minister of Transport (Anthony Loke) mentioned maybe one of them. As I said, we are looking at our State’s rights,” Masing said.
Masing had told a national online news portal last week that the state government was “now studying our constitutional position as far as ports and harbours are concerned”.
“We just have to get what is ours, we have neglected our rights in the past 55 years,” he was quoted saying.
Meanwhile, Masing reiterated that Sarawak needed to have sea ports as river-based ports were expensive to maintain due to siltation.
“River ports like Senari, Tanjung Manis, Rajang Port and Miri Port have limited usage because of siltation.
“That is why the government is looking at developing Tanjung Manis Sea Port, near Kuching, which has a natural depth of 10 to 15 metres,” he said.— DayakDaily