KUCHING, Aug 22 — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today declined to commit himself to whether the state government is studying the possibility of taking over Bintulu Port Sdn Bhd from the federal government.
He said ports and harbours are the right of the state under the Federal Constitution, prompting reporters to ask him if he was talking about taking over Bintulu Port.
“I did not say it. I am not saying it. But what I am saying is we want to consolidate our ports management operations as per the Federal Constitution,” he told reporters during a press conference to announce the reshuffling of the state Cabinet.
According to its company profile, Bintulu Port is the import and export gateway for Sarawak and the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines or East Asean Growth Area region.
It is Sarawak’s largest container port and the nation’s sole liquefied natural gas (LNG) export gateway, and is currently one of the largest LNG export terminals in the world.
Cargo generated from its hinterland is expected to increase as Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) initiatives are implemented, with additional shipments of aluminium, pulp and paper, silicon, manganese, fertiliser, downstream timber and agro produce and products making their way to the dock.
The chief minister said the Ministry of Infrastructure and Ports Development will study the Port Authorities Ordinance 1961 with a view to consolidating and strengthening the overall management of port facilities in the state.
He said Sarawak, as a trading state, is exporting a lot of products while at the same time, also importing goods from other countries.
“That is why we need to upgrade and modernise our port facilities. Our emphasis is on the improvement of port development.
“Ports and harbours are within the powers of the state. So we have to consolidate and strengthen our facilities,” he said.
Abang Johari said the volume of goods passing through the ports is expected to increase, especially from the export of agriculture products overseas.
He said the ports must also modernise their containerisation facilities, especially for agriculture products.