KUCHING, April 28 — Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing today maintained that the state government will not, for now, do away with the cabotage policy that bans foreign-owned vessels from operating within the domestic waters of Malaysia.
He said he has received many letters and phone calls by traders, both in Sarawak as well as overseas, asking the state government to do away with the policy which was introduced on January 1, 1980.
“At the moment I am not interested in doing it for a simple reason that I want to protect the shipping companies in Sarawak so that they will not face any competitions from outside to come in,” Masing, who is also the state Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development, said in a statement after a working visit to the Kuching Port Authority (KPA) here.
“Therefore, if I am protecting the local shipping companies, they must also protect the shipping interest in Sarawak and that is all I want. It is a win-win situation between them and the state government,” he said.
He said the shipping companies must protect the people of Sarawak from the high costs of goods.
On his working visit to KPA, he said it was to update him on the ongoing problems involving computer outage at the Senari Port since the end of last month.
He said the KPA is doing its best to fix it but shipping companies should not make this as an excuse to increase the surcharge on their consumers.
“I promise KPA to be in a better position to dispose and process the export and import of cargo in a timely manner, so there will be no extra costs to the shipping companies and their consumers,” he said.
Two days ago, Masing had a video meeting with the representatives of five major major shipping companies, KPA and Kuching Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, and industry on the traffic congestion at the Senari Port.
He had said the shipping companies agreed not to issue surcharges to their consumers for the extra costs incurred due to the longer period of time to process and deliver the containers as it was done manually.
However, according to Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen yesterday, two of the shipping companies had decided to continue with imposing the surcharges.