Idea of ‘confronting Putrajaya on cabotage policy’ shot down


KOTA KINABALU: A three-hour talk in Kota Kinabalu last Saturday, “Did Cabotage Policy Breach Malaysia Agreement”, was not about “clearing the sky on the National Cabotage Policy (NCP)”, said a former Secretary to a Sabah Assistant Minister in an email.

“It was an attempt at misleading and confusing the people.”

He demanded to know whether the speakers were suggesting the people confront the Federal Government on the NCP.

If not, he argued, there was no need for the speakers to use “flawed data” and “untrue scenarios” to state the case against the NCP.

Richard Wong reserved the criticism in his email for speaker Zainnal Ajamain, who recently brought out a book of compilations on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Another speaker was former Federation of Sabah Industries Honorary Life President Wong Khen Tau, with whom Richard also begged to differ.

“There’s nothing useful in their presentations. Their data is flawed, their assumptions are downright naïve, and their arguments can’t hold even one drop of water,” said Richard. “I will rebut Wong tomorrow.”

Zainnal’s argument was a clear case of using an orange to answer an apple question when he dragged in two caveats in MA63, said Richard.

“Shipping charges are freight charges, a purely commercial decision. They have nothing to do with port fees and dues.”

Besides that, he added, the freight charges given by the Malaysian Ship Owners Association (Masa) were only indicative charges for merchants. “It’s not a compulsory rate which all parties must adhere to.”

The ship owner has no right whatsoever to fix, or cause to fix, port charges in any of the Sabah ports, he pointed out.

“It’s the sole prerogative of the Sabah Government through the Sabah Port Authority. So, where’s the breach?”

It’s also not true that foreign vessels, under the NCP, cannot dock at Sabah ports, said Richard.

He was referring to Zainnal pointing out two caveats in MA63, viz the first caveat was that the Federal Government would not interfere with the administration of port authorities, and in respect of port fees and dues.

The other caveat that Zainnal pointed out, as indicated in the MA63, was that the Federal Government should not discriminate or design to divert the trade routes.

Richard lamented that Zainnal also claimed the freight charges from Port Klang to Tawau Port, for example, was over RM4,300.

“The current freight charges between the two ports is in fact not more than RM2,500 per standard TEU.”

It is also the height of ignorance, he continued, to suggest that Sabah and Sarawak boycott the NCP and use Brunei as an alternative port.

“I really don’t know what to say about this suggestion.”

Instead of making the effort to build our home, argued Richard, Zainnal was suggesting that we help build our neighbour’s home. “How ignorant can he be?”