Security good so barter trade won’t impact tourism, says Sabah DCM

Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew says lifting the ban on barter trading will enhance business between the countries involved and create employment. (Bernama pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew is confident the security forces guarding the borders of Sabah in the east coast are more than capable of handling cross-border crimes, including kidnapping attempts.

Commenting on the state government’s plan to resume barter trade activities in the area, Liew, who is also state tourism, culture and environment minister, told FMT that the state government would not have made that decision without proper studies.

“Personally, I am confident the lifting of the ban will enhance business between the countries involved and create trade and employment,” she said.

On the concern raised by Sabah Umno Youth chief Aziz Julkarnain that any instances of cross border crime in the area could hit the growing tourism industry in the east coast, Liew said she was confident that agencies such as Esscom and the marine police were prepared for the worst.

Yesterday, Aziz urged the state government to reconsider its plan to resume the barter trade because of the economic problems it could cause should another kidnapping incident involving slow moving vessels, such as the ones used by barter traders, happen again.

Aziz said tourism brought in RM7.74 billion to the state last year and the figure was expected to increase.

In contrast, he said, the barter trade activity only brought in an estimated RM200 million to RM350 million to the state.

Although it was still money, he believed it was illogical to keep this going especially as the barter trade was lopsided and did not benefit Sabahans and it had been used as a cover for smugglers bringing in contraband goods, including firearms, from the Southern Philippines into Sabah in the past.

Chief Minister Shafie Apdal announced on Wednesday that barter trading between Sabah and the Philippines and Indonesia will resume from Jan 1 next year.

Shafie hoped to encourage economic activities within the eastern Sabah region. He added that strict standard operating procedures and guidelines would be put in place to ensure the barter trade was not abused.