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By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Sept 30: The Sarawak Government will review the Cabotage policy due to the increasing demands by local shippers, said Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development (MIDP) Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing.
Masing who is also Deputy Chief Minister said currently about 85 per cent of ships in Malaysia are Sarawak-based.
“We are looking into that now. And I have a lot of shippers coming to see me. They are not happy with the doing away of the Cabotage policy which was abolished in 2017,” Masing told a press conference after presenting his talk on “Energy and Industry-Driving Future Growth for Sarawak” on the sideline of the 2019 Sarawak Investment and Business Summit held at a leading hotel here today.
“Sarawak has the most number of ships in Malaysia actually and they have suffered because of the Cabotage policy. So, the Sarawak Government will review it,” he explained.
When asked whether it is practical to reinstate the Cabotage policy, Masing said it depended on the shippers themselves as they were the major stakeholders.
“If the stakeholders are not happy, who am I to say no. The bottom line is dollars and cents. And the shippers are giving us inputs.
“The abolishment of Cabotage Policy has affected Sarawak’s shipping industry. Many shippers have collapsed due to liberalization of this policy.
“Therefore, they have suggested to MIDP for us to reinstate Cabotage Policy. My ministry will put the shippers or the stakehoders suggestion to MOT (The Ministry of Transport) for its consideration.”
Meanwhile, Nobel Pang, a member of the Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and industry said currently, the chamber is collecting data on the number of containers actually trans-shipped in Sarawak.
“We need actual data. So, we are collecting and analyzing the data, then we will recommend to the Sarawak Government,” he said.
Pang also highlighted that middlemen played a crucial role in the logistic industry.
The cabotage policy was introduced in the 1980s as a way to promote Port Klang as the nation’s main transhipment hub. Goods from outside the country are required to make a stop at Port Klang before being shipped to Sarawak and Sabah. — DayakDaily
Note of the editor: The story has been updated for more accurate report.