Cabotage policy stays

Masing (second left) being briefed by Robert Lau (second right), general manager of Kuching Port Authority, as Assistant Infrastructure and Ports Development Minister Datuk Julaihi Narawi (right) looks on.

KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar  James Jemut Masing is not interested in doing away with the cabotage policy as he wants to protect shipping companies in Sarawak so that they will not face any competition from outside shippers coming in.

“Therefore, if I am protecting them, the shipping companies also must protect the shipping interest in Sarawak, that is all I want,” he said today.

Describing it as a win-win situation, he said he was protecting shipping companies by not taking away the cabotage policy while at the same time, shipping companies must help to protect Sarawakians from the high cost of items.

“It is a give and takes situation by the shipping companies and by the Sarawak government.”

He said he had received a lot of letters and phone calls from traders, both in Sarawak as well as overseas, to do away with the cabotage policy.

He explained that the cabotage policy was a law that protected the local shipping companies in Malaysia.

“It is a law whereby no foreign-owned vessels are allowed to operate within domestic waters.”

Masing, who is the Infrastructure and Ports Development Minister, went on a working visit to Kuching Port Authority (KPA) on Wednesday to get updates on the ongoing problems there since the computer outage that occurred at the end of last month.

“The computer outage was because of natural disaster, it is not of our choice, and KPA is doing its best to fix it, but shipping companies should not use this as an excuse to increase the surcharge of the consumers who are the shippers.

“I promise KPA to be in a better position to dispose and process the export and import of cargo on time, so there will be no extra cost to the shipping companies and their consumers.”