KUCHING: Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How has said that Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar James Masing’s statement expressing doubt on the establishment of the Bintulu Port under the Bintulu Port Authority Act 1981 “shows his lack of comprehension”.
See added the “reckless statement” lacked comprehension in regards to the constitution of the Bintulu Port Authority (BPA) and legal status of the subject land.
According to See, the establishment of the Bintulu Port Authority as a federal port was not merely due to the legislating of the Bintulu Port Authority Act 1981 in Parliament, but that was preceded by the passing of the ‘Declaration Of An Area In The Bintulu District To Be A Federal Port Act 1979’ in December 1978.
“The DCM must be reminded that it is unwise for him to use his unfounded and mistaken understanding of the matter to incite and fuel anti-federal sentiment in Sarawak.
“All the BN (Barisan Nasional) parliamentarians from Sarawak had fully supported the passing of the two bills culminating to the establishment of the Bintulu Port Authority, in December 1978 and December 1980 respectively.
“The DCM is actually accusing all the BN MPs from Sarawak for supporting those bills that are against the interests of Sarawak and Sarawakians. The DCM should have consulted his former colleagues to better understand the issue,” the statement read.
“It is now embarrassing for the DCM to expose yet another shortcomings of the former BN administration of which he is a part of.”
See was commenting on Masing’s recent statement that the Sarawak government is studying whether the law enacted by Parliament in 1981 for the establishment of Bintulu Port is enforceable in Sarawak.
Masing said the state government was now looking into its constitutional rights over the state assets which over the years have been under the administration of the federal government..
See said the Infrastructure and Ports Development Minister might have been wrongly advised to doubt and question of infringement or violation of Sarawak’s constitutional rights of State’s land (asset) with the establishment and operation of the Bintulu Port by the federal government.
See said the Bintulu Ports are sited on the 200-hectares land in Tanjung Kidurong, Bintulu, described as Lot 15 Block 20 Kemena Land District, was leased to the Bintulu Port Authority for 99 years commencing March 1983 , for an annual rent of RM1,503,750.
“The Bintulu Port Authority does not own the land in perpetuity. It is, at best, only a leaseholder over the land for the 99-years term, for the development and operation of a deepwater port. The allegation of the DCM that the port’s operation is violating Sarawak’s constitutional rights over her state assets is hugely misplaced.”
Further, See said the operations of Bintulu Port had been privatised under the Ports (Privatisation) Act, 1990 and Bintulu Port Authority had licensed a port operation company, Bintulu Port Sdn Bhd. (BPSB) to carry out port operation services and related functions at Bintulu Port.
“The Bintulu Port Sdn Bhd is wholly owned by the Bintulu Port Holdings Berhad (BPHB), of which the state is the single largest shareholder, with Petronas and the national pension trust fund Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWP) being the other two major shareholders,” he added.
See said top Sarawak state administrators were sitting in the Board of Directors of BPHB and chaired the BPSB since their establishment and the state was receiving substantial returns from its investment in BPHB.
“The progress that has been made by BPHP, representing federal-state cooperation to bring better and more meaningful progress and development in Sarawak, should in fact be emulated and promoted to foster better federal-state relation and more meaningful development that will derive substantial and tangible interests for Sarawak.”
See urged Masing to retract his comments so that all unnecessary statements by others would be stopped and that the federal-state relationship would not be “strained needlessly”.