Sarawak looking into details of Bintulu Port takeover bid

Julaihi (left) and Aidel addressing a press conference.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Nov 5: The Sarawak government has embarked on a detailed study on the state laws under the Federal Constitution before taking the appropriate steps and negotiations to take over Bintulu Port.

The research will look into the best practices to enhance and ensure efficient ports management in Sarawak, said Assistant Minister of Infrastructure and Ports Development Datuk Julaihi Narawi.

“Port development is crucial to spur the economic activities in Sarawak. When we talk about a detailed study, we also look into Bintulu Port.

“Once the study is completed, we can then assess the steps and processes that needed to be taken if the state government is to take over any federal entity including Bintulu Port,” he told a press conference at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex media room on the second day of the sitting.

As the study has only started, Julaihi added that sufficient time is required to do a proper and due diligence study to be fair to all stakeholders.

On the controlling stake in order to take over Bintulu Port, he said the amount of shares in Bintulu Port Holding Bhd (BPHB) — the licensed port operator — under the state financial secretary was currently at 26.67 per cent, while a subsidiary at 13.04 per cent.

“In total, we have 39.72 per cent at the moment. Whether the amount is sufficient to take over the port, it is subject to our due diligence study and of course, negotiations with important stakeholders.

“We are not the only shareholders, there are others including Petronas, Kumpulan Wang Persaraan and public shares because Bintulu Port is a public listed company,” he added.

Hoping for the best outcome, Julaihi said ports play a crucial role in the development of any advanced countries and cities in the world.

“All these developed countries and cities have an efficient and advanced port. Thus, we feel that port development is extremely important to spur economic activities especially Sarawak which has a abundance resources in the hinterland. Studies showed that places that are developed have an efficient and advanced port.”

Sadong Jaya assemblyman Aidel Lariwoo said Bintulu Port, being one of the richest ports in Malaysia, can become another major revenue stream for Sarawak.

“In Bintulu, Sarawak has the second largest oil reserves in the world. Petronas is doing all the gas activities at Bintulu Port. There is a huge revenue there, so it is like a cash cow for Sarawak government if we can take over the port,” he claimed.

He expressed hope the state government can integrate and streamline all ports within Sarawak waters under one enactment or entity.

“Because our huge resources are there, not only in terms of shares but more importantly, the oil and gas resources on our shore. If we can run Bintulu Port on our own, for sure we can generate more income in billions for our state economy,” he said. — DayakDaily