NGO calls for end to Cabotage Policy


KOTA KINABALU: Gerakan Nasionales Sabah (Ganas) called for the abolition of the Cabotage Policy to resolve the disparity in prices in Sabah and the Peninsula.

Its coordinator Zainal Ajamain said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak himself had acknowledged that transportation cost was the main reason for the glaring price disparity between east and west Malaysia.

To solve this problem, he said all that Najib needed to do was to address the problem at its root by calling for the abolishment of the Cabotage Policy as pointed out by many in Sabah over the years.

“The Cabotage Policy which results in higher cost of transportation of goods has long been blamed for the much higher cost of living in Sabah. This is not just empty talk or made up theory but a fact supported by research and expert opinion.

“If the BN government is serious in solving the issue, it has to see that the Cabotage Policy is something they must do away with, not creating business opportunity for a few operators at the expense of hundreds of millions in public funds,” he added.

Zainal said Ganas would work closely with Sabah PAS to heighten public awareness and push for the abolishment of the unfair policy.

He noted that among the things mentioned in the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report, from which the Malaysia Agreement 1963 was formulated, was the federation members’ right to manage and administer their own ports and trade without interference from the federal government design to influence or change the trade route.

Based on this, he said Sabah, prior to the implementation of the Cabotage Policy in the 80’s, had the freedom to trade directly with other international ports, such as Hong Kong.

However with the policy in place, he said Sabah was forced to trade through Port Klang, which is a clear breach of the Malaysia Agreement.

“So, who knows maybe we will take the government to court on the issue. This is our rights and we have been denied of it through Cabotage Policy,” he added.