THE Infrastructure Development Ministry is aware of complaints that have been raised by the public concerning the Cabotage Policy.
Deputy Chief Minister cum Infrastructure Development Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said action had been taken to bring the issue to the national level.
This was done after considering the inputs of various parties, particularly the Federation of Sabah Manufacturers, he said in his winding up speech at the State Legislative Assembly yesterday.
“The action has caught the attention of the Federal Government where a special committee chaired by the deputy prime minister, has been created to scrutinize the issue,” he said.
However, he said, the committee had yet to make an official decision on the issue although it has taken proactive steps to ensure uniformity in the prices of goods throughout the country through introduction of the ‘kedai rakyat’ (people’s shop) and its declaration of a proposed transportation subsidy for the same purpose.
“These actions show the government’s commitment to ensure the prices of goods in Malaysia are uniform,” he said.
On the part of the Infrastructure Development Ministry, Pairin said they would continue to work towards finding a satisfactory solution to the policy.
Pairin also explained that the policy was introduced in Sabah on January 1, 1980, and under the policy, only ships that were registered in Malaysia and owned by Malaysians were allowed to carry and discharge cargo domestically at any ports within the country.
“Ships that are not owned by Malaysians are disallowed from doing that. Nevertheless, the policy does not stop any shipping companies from sending their cargo or containers from overseas destinations such as China or Taiwan to any ports in Malaysia or to transport the cargo or container from any ports in Malaysia to overseas destinations,” he said.
He added that the rationale for the policy was to turn Malaysia into a maritime country, to reduce dependency on foreign countries that provide shipping services, and to develop the technical and commercial knowledge in shipping.