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Why did Safma privatise a golden goose in the first place?
Published on: Saturday, December 13, 2014

I Refer to the many articles which appeared in your paper regarding the so-called crisis at the Sabah Fishery Marketing Agency (Safma) jetty between the Kota Kinabalu Fishing Boats Owners Association (KKFBOA) and the former jetty concessionaire, Sejahtera Bumimas.

The debacle emerged because Safma failed to manage the situation. Datuk Musa’s statement which appeared in your 25.22.14 issue pointedly directed Safma to investigate.

This Government agency is tasked with the marketing of our sea produces. It is managed by a Board and management team but it appears, to me they are more interested to “farm” out their core activities and responsibilities and at the end of day what is Safma for?

The task farmed out to Sejahtera Bumimas is a most profitable operation in the whole business. So it came as a shock that Safma decided to privatise it in the first place and hear the Safma boss talking about trying its best to be profitable. It must qualify for the joke of the year.

The KKFBOA is 90pc run and controlled by trawler owners from Malaya while Safma’s concessionaire for the jetty is another group from Sarawak. The crisis occurred because of greed and nothing else, but to put it bluntly Safma and the board of directors and the management must accept responsibility.

Surely, Safma, in granting Sejahtera Bumimas the concession agreement must have in place some form of provision in the concession agreement to ensure the concessionaire simply could not impose fees at their whim and fancy, that will be detrimental to the consumers at the end of the day.

Or is it the case of ‘I have eyes but cannot see, I have ears but cannot hear and mouth that cannot speak’?

Last week I was made to pay RM10.00 for a kilo of ikan basung and upon enquiry I was told sudah kurang ikan kerana orang cina bergaduh di Safma of course, my fishmonger friend was referring to the two quarrelling groups! It is not a healthy situation and I am pleased Musa, who is obviously fully conscious of the scenario has issued a directive to resolve the problem.

When one need to pay RM10.00 for a Kilo of Ikan Basung (usally sold at RM3-4 a kilo), it is a sure sign that something has gone very wrong somewhere and that somebody is even fleecing the poorest. Ikan Basung is considered a ‘poor man’s fish’ and is very popular in many restaurants and Bumiputra-run ‘Warong’ everywhere in Sabah.

I understand from next year onward all trawlers in Malaya will have their operations discontinued. Am I, therefore, to assume all the hundreds will again be invited to Sabah and operate in our waters?

Given that we have already more than 40 long liners operated by the ruthless and notorious Vietnamese crews here!

Our seas will not be able sustain that volume of trawlers for too long and eventually we will be made to pay the price of our own folly! The trawler business in Malaya is controlled by Teo Chew, while that in Sabah by Foo Chows. It will be interesting to see how both groups compete for the spoils in Sabah.

It will be Chinese vs Chinese for the same line of business and the downside will be over-fishing.

I fear that this situation will arise and sadly our government will be forced to continue to pay RM200 a month to our local fishermen as a subsidy for the rest of their life just to eat and sleep, for the simple reason, there will be no more fish in our waters for them to catch.

I urge our State Government to look seriously into this scenario and take pre-emptive measures and consider terminating/minimising the operators of trawlers and long liners in our waters.

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