Kudat-Palawan ferry service high on agenda
Published on: Monday, September 23, 2019
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KOTA KINABALU: The 7th Bimp-Eaga transport cluster meeting in Davao from Sept 24 to 26 will see Malaysia sending the largest number of private sector delegates to deliberate on several long-standing issues plaguing the industry.

BEBC Malaysia Chairman, Datuk Roselan Johar Mohamed (pic), said it could not be ascertained if these issues can be resolved immediately but “bringing our tedious matters for deliberation by the four governments of BIMP is already good enough for the transport industry.”

“After all, the government officers of BIMP (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines) attending the meeting have long been recognised as most responsive and accommodating to our plights,” he said in a statement Sunday.

He said the issue high on the list was the proposed Kudat-Palawan roll- on-roll-off ferry service.

“Promises have been made and assurances doubled, but the ferry is nowhere in sight. When the economic situation is on the low side, we should resort to whatever mode we have to boost the trading activities.  

“After all, the bulk of the traders themselves are from the low-income group,” he said. Roselan said the Federal Government has to decide between economic prosperity for the people and political security and sovereignty enhancement for Sabah.  

The latter will leave the people, especially those in the business sector, probably in agony and on the blind spot as they don’t know where and what else to trade, he said.

“We feel our learned Minister is empowered to exercise his exemption ruling to allow the ferry to operate within six to 12 months pending upgrading of the relevant certificates to cater for international routes.  

“Otherwise, we can only assume that there is another Minister somewhere who is more powerful to decide otherwise,” quipped Roselan.

According to him, the ferry in question was relatively new and needed a six-month grace period to assess route viability. 

“If there is no profit, the ferry can still ply their domestic routes, thus saving plenty of money required to upgrade the certificates and vessel structures,” he said.

They hoped the Transport Ministry of Malaysia will consider the plea for the sake of the Bimp-Eaga solidarity. Roselan said another issue that also remained on the high priority list was the plight of Bimp-Eaga partner, Aleson Shipping, which has been plying the ferry-cum-cargo vessel between Zamboanga and Sandakan.  

“They have constantly been pressured with stop operation notices and even told to operate a cargo vessel and stop the ferry services.

“Though we were never directly told, it is very apparent that the Government wanted only the cargo vessels and nothing to do with the ferry of passengers from Zamboanga into Sandakan.  

“It could be construed that Sabah has been plagued with immigrants and will pose serious political anxiety if we have more immigrants in the State.  

“We have to respect our government’s good intention in the long run because seriously until now, a neighbour has never stopped claiming that Sabah is theirs!  

“They have even gone to declare that it is treason to stop the claim and or to establish a consular office in Sabah,” he said.

Roselan opined that when politics start to inter-twine with business, the pressure on the businesses itself would be very great and “we always wonder when will it ever end.”

“Perhaps the answer is already printed a long time ago that as long as there is the sun, the moon and the star in the sky, Sabah shall remain in Malaysia and business as usual shall be practised,” he said.

Towards this end, Roselan said “for the moment, and for good order and condition, it is best that we scrap the ferry and replace it with steel cargo vessels.”

“BEBC Malaysia will stand firm and in line with our government’s decision,” he said.


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