Proposed Sarawak Ports Authority to embrace Spore’s port success model for corporatisation, privatisation

A file photo of the large ship carrying the ART prototype vehicle arriving at Senari Port at 6am on Aug 5, 2023. Photo credit: Ukas

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 7: The proposed Sarawak Ports Authority will adopt the Singaporean model in corporatisation and eventual privatisation of port operations and port undertakings in the region, enabling ports to function as commercial entities under a licensing regime.

Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, while introducing the Sarawak Ports Authority Bill 2024, said the success of Singapore’s port policy underscored the importance of corporatisation or privatisation of port operations, along with the presence of a centralised regulatory body to oversee and facilitate port activities.


Initially, the Port of Singapore Authority regulated and operated the port until the 1990s when the Singaporean government reformed the sector, converting it into an independent commercial entity and transferring regulatory responsibilities to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).

In respect of the taking over the management and operation of the port, Uggah, who is also Minister for Infrastructure and Port Development, pointed out that it will be implemented in three phases – the interim phase, the corporatisation phase and privatisation phase.

During the interim phase, he said the existing port authorities will continue operations under licenses issued by the Sarawak Ports Authority until their dissolution.

“In the corporatisation phase, operational functions will transition to successor companies, potentially wholly-owned by the Authority or the State Financial Secretary, or other company incorporated under the Companies Act 2016 specified by regulation.

“Before the dissolution, the existing port authorities shall surrender their lands to the Sarawak government under section 45 of the Land Code. These lands may, at the discretion of the Sarawak government, be re-alienated either to the Sarawak Ports Authority or to the successor company under section 15A of the Land Code. Sarawak Ports Authority may then issue a licence to the successor company to undertake all port undertakings subject to the terms and conditions of the licence,” he elaborated in the august House today.

Additionally, all officers and employees of the existing port authorities shall be accepted into the employment of Sarawak Ports Authority or a successor company on terms and conditions no less favourable than what they are enjoying under the existing port authorities.

“In the privatisation phase, the Sarawak Ports Authority, with approval, will license either a new entity with private sector or investor involvement or a successor company which has admitted new shareholders as investors to operate ports.

“These new entity will have to submit an application together with an operational and management plan as required under the new law,” he said, adding that the timing and execution of this phase will be determined by the Sarawak Ports Authority as the regulatory and licensing authority. — DayakDaily