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China investors for development of Sepanggar Port, Purely speculative: Pairin

Tuesday, 28 July 2015 | 06:31
The State Government is prepared to sit down and talk with investors who are offering a very feasible proposal and has the financial capability to help develop the Sepanggar Port for the benefit of Sabah.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said it was only natural for the matter to be viewed from the positive perspective since it would be for the overall benefit of the State.

Pairin, who is also Infrastructure Development Minister, nonetheless was surprised with the speculative statement by Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) Secretary-General Datuk Richard Yong on the issue.

"I am very surprised that they can predict what is coming. I myself (as the Minister-in-charge) doesn't even know about it (if there is any), but they can predict the conclusion," he said when met at the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Hari Raya open house at the PWD building in Sembulan, here, Sunday.

The PBS President described Yong's statement as purely speculative.

"I cannot speculate like that," said Pairin when asked to comment on Yong's statement asking the Chief Minister as well as Pairin himself to clarify reports that Sabah ports, especially the container port at Sepanggar, will be open to investors from China.

Yong was commenting on the report quoting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai as telling China investors that Malaysia welcomes China's firms to invest in Malaysian ports and that the Sepanggar port "is still in the development stage and the Government hopes to upgrade the port to international level in which foreign investments are much needed."

"Does Liow mean that the Sabah ports are now open for privatisation to China investors? If so, why is this not made known to the people of Sabah? Or is the Federal Minister of Transport unduly interfering with the affairs of the Sabah Government?" Yong had asked. Yong said SAPP also believed that the ownership and control over Sabah ports must remain in the hands of Sabahans through State Government agencies.

Pairin said whether there are interested investors from China or America, the State Government would take into account that all must be to Sabah's advantage.

"We have to be sensible about that. The emphasis here is it must be for the benefit of Sabah," he said.

To a question, Pairin said so far, he has not heard about any investors interested to invest in Sepanggar container port's development.

"But if there are groups who are interested, there is no reason not to have discussion or exploration of the idea before we can reach a conclusion," he said.

On the Cabotage policy, Pairin said a logistical study has to be done to look into the imbalance of trade for foreign shippers to call at the ports in Sabah.

"We have (actually) been allowing foreign ships to call at our ports already. But at this point of time, no foreign ships are coming down (to Sabah) due to the imbalance," he said.

He explained that the foreign ships were carrying a full load of containers into Sabah but, on the other hand, there is no volume for them on the return trip.

"This is what we have to study…it may require an ingenious solution. Those with good idea can propose it to us so that it can be studied," he said.

The PBS Hari Raya open house was graced by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and his wife Datin Seri Faridah Tussin.

Also on hand were State Secretary Tan Sri Sukarti Wakiman, State Commissioner of Police Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman as well as Deputy Presidents of PBS, Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai and Senator Datuk Jamilah Sulaiman, Secretary General Datuk Johnny Mositun and supreme council members.
Source: Daily Express
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