By Chris Maskilone
KOTA KINABALU: Nothing has been finalised concerning the Kudat-Palawan Roll-on-Roll-off (ro-ro) Ferry Service.
“No official decision has been made by the Minister of Transport and no exact date for commencement has been fixed, yet. So far, nothing is final and that the news had merely reported ideas and personal opinions being expressed during the dialogue,” said Sabah Democratic Action Party (DAP) Secretary Chan Foong Hin.
He was clarifying a local daily report on Monday that stated Transport Minister Anthony Loke as saying it will be just a matter of weeks or a month before the much-awaited Kudat-Palawan roll-on-roll-off (ro-ro) ferry service is operational.
Chan confirmed Loke had met with officials of the BIMP-Eafa Business Councils of Sandakan, Tawau and Kudat in Sandakan.
Chan said the meeting was actually meant to understand issues of the barter trade local players.
The Member of Parliament for Kota Kinabalu noted that the Minister had emphasised that the traders were subjected to the shipping safety requirement, but nevertheless will take into account the reality faced by the traders.
“The government’s policy has always been to facilitate and encourage business and trades. Therefore, it is important to deal with issues like the issuance of proper licences for non-conventional small ships (NCSS) urgently used by traders doing business with Sabah,” said Chan.
Malaysia and its neighbouring countries had previously signed an Asean Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Mutual Recognition of Non-Conventional Ships during a meeting in Bangkok last year in November 2018.
Through this MoU, the Malaysia Maritime Department will allow the entry of foreign barter trade vessels provided that they are certified safe by the relevant authorities from their respective country of origin.
“Therefore, it is inaccurate for the media to make such a report about the Minister as though he had made any promises, whether it is barter trade facilitation, or whether it is to allow the Kudat-Palawan ro-ro ferry service to be operated,” said Chan.
According to Chan, the meeting held a day before the Sandakan by election polling day was a closed-door affair to enable the participants to speak out their mind.
“However and more importantly, it was never publicised to avoid any allegation that the DAP had done so to buy votes by offering goodies to voters. Loke is from the DAP too so we would like to avoid such allegations,” said Chan.
Chan added that it was never the minister’s intention to publicise this meeting or the contents of the dialogue and discussions.-SabahNewsToday