Kota Kinabalu, Sunday, 28 May 2017: “Who is the boss? Prime Minister Najib or the Minister of Transport and his Ministry?  There appears to be utter confusion as to the abolishment of the cabotage policy for Sabah and Sarawak which was announced by PM Najib himself in Sandakan on 6th May 2017” said Jeffrey Kumin, Information Chief of Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) in response to the latest development that the alleged exemption of the cabotage policy appears to be only for a trial period of 6 months according to the press report attributed to the Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak, Tan Sri James Masing.

When the news broke of PM Najib’s announcement of the abolishment of the cabotage policy, it was clearly that Najib had announced its abolishment in Sandakan.

However, later that day, the Ministry of Transport in its official press statement, stated that it was not an abolishment as announced but an exemption. This was of course contrary to Najib’s announcement. There was also no disclosure that the exemption was to be for a trial period of 6 months as now made up to be.

One now wonders whether the Minister of Transport or the Ministry of Transport effectively overruled the Prime Minister on the abolishment and substituted the abolishment with an exemption.

Who is now the boss, the Prime Minister or the Minister of Transport, or some official in the Ministry of Transport?

Since the PM has announced its abolishment, the Ministry of Transport should get its act together and stop the bullshit of exemption.   The Minister of Transport should also apologize to all Malaysians particularly to Sabahans and Sarawakians over their bungling of the issue and their contradictory announcement on the exemption instead of abolishment and lately, the issue of the 6 months trial period.

In addition, the Ministry of Transport should take immediate steps to fulfil the necessary requirements on the abolishment and make the necessary amendments in the law relating to the cabotage.

The Ministry of Transport should also take the necessary steps to ensure that there is no renewal by the Malaysia Commission on Competition (MyCC) of the Block Exemption Order 2014 (BEO) which will expire on 11 July 2017.    The BEO has the effect of creating a price cartel by the shipping companies since it will have the effect of removing any competition on the freight charges for cargo between Port Klang and the ports in Sabah and Sarawak.

If the abolishment of the cabotage policy is not implemented as announced, with all necessary steps taken to implement it, then any action to turn it into an exemption with a renewal of the BEO, then Najib’s announcement is nothing but an election gimmick.

At the same time, it will make Sabahans and Sarawakians to be fools. If such is the case, then be forewarned, that the federal government should not “play-play” with the cabotage policy. Sabahans and Sarawakians should then take the opportunity to vote and throw out the BN federal government in PRU-14.

Jeffrey Kumin
Information Chief
Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku
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