New policy to promote Sabah Ports needed – Phoong

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Phoong (seated centre) with FSI members during the networking event in conjunction with the Chinese New Year celebration.

KOTA KINABALU (March 2): A new policy is needed to promote Sabah Ports, following the recent announcement of Transport Minister Anthony Loke, that the National Load Centre policy introduced in 1990 to centralise all cargo services at Port Klang, no longer applies.

Industrial Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Datuk Phoong Jin Zhe said this to reporters on Saturday after launching the Federation of Sabah Industries (FSI) Members’ Networking Event, in conjunction with Chinese New Year celebration.

“The announcement is a good and positive starting point, but we also need to prepare a policy for how we encourage more shipping activities. It is on our own now.

“The National Load Centre policy was implemented to promote Port Klang. However, the port is now handling import and export containers exceeding six million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units). The National Load Centre policy has already been successful.

“We now need a policy to help our port, Sabah Ports, to increase the competitiveness. Otherwise, we can’t be like Singapore, Port Klang or not even Penang,” he said.

Phoong also said that there is a need to study if Thailand’s plan to build sea ports and a land bridge to shorten ships journey will also benefit Sabah.

In his ministry level, he said it will be his responsibility to improve the state’s export activities.

In the past year, Phoong said he had been encouraging local industries to venture into manufacturing sector so that there are more products to be exported from Sabah.

“We need to be competitive and we need to bring products out, otherwise it is very costly for the foreign shipping company to dock at Sabah Ports if they don’t have anything to carry out.

“We believe export activities are getting better. There is much more that Sabah has to do, so that the announcement of the policy can be fully utilised,” he added.

Present at the event were FSI president Richard Lim, FSI honorary president and advisor Datuk Seri Panglima Wong Khen Thau, FSI founder Dr Jes Lim and FSI past president Datuk John Choo.