KUCHING, Sept 2 — The Sarawak government is studying whether Bintulu Port is among the state’s assets being administered by the federal government without the consent of its legislative assembly, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing said today.
“The state government is looking at our constitutional rights over state assets which the federal government has been administering over the years,” he said.
Masing said, though he is not a lawyer, he believes there are laws, passed by Parliament which cannot be implemented in Sarawak without the endorsement of the state assembly.
“As an example, the Territorial Sea Act, which was passed by Parliament in 2012, cannot be implemented in Sarawak because the state assembly did not endorse it.
“The federal law which Minister of Transport Anthony Loke mentioned early this morning may be one of those laws,” Masing said in response to Loke’s statement on the Sarawak government’s intention to take back Bintulu Port from the federal government.
Masing had said ports and harbours were the right of the state under the State List IIA of the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.
This morning, Borneo Post reported Loke as saying that it would not be easy for Sarawak to do so as the port was established through an Act of 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,” he had told reporters during a press conference in Miri.
Bintulu Port Authority (BPA) was established on August 15, 1981 under the Bintulu Port Act 1981 as a statutory body of the federal government under the Ministry of Transport.
However, the port’s operational service was privatised under Ports (Privatisation) Act 1993 in line with the national privatisation policy.
Following the privatisation exercise, Bintulu Port Sdn Bhd (BPSB) was founded on December 23, 1992 and commenced operation on January 1, 1993.
BPA is currently responsible for regulatory exercises and security of the port while BPSB is responsible for cargo handling at the Bintulu International Container Terminal (BICT).
The port also provides vessel traffic service to shipping vessels.