Devolution of Authority Of Bintulu Port for the Benefit of Sarawak

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Media Statement By YB Kelvin Yii:

I welcome the announcement by Transport Minister YB Anthony Loke on the progress on the agreement for the Sarawak Government to take back the authority over the Bintulu Port in line with the spirit and need for more devolution powers back to Sabah & Sarawak.

This was also affirmed by the Budget Speech by Prime Minister Dato Seri Anwar in his budget speech announced that the federal government has agreed to devolve Bintulu Port back to Sarawak.

This is an issue which i have brought up in Parliament and an important issue for us as Sarawak so that we can have better control of our maritime hub and promote greater trade activities which may act as an additional economic catalyst within the region.

In my debates in Parliament, different issues were brought up including the technicalities of such a devolution which includes the staffing, financial understanding, concessions agreement, ownership model, legal authority, the need to amend or repeal the Bintulu Port Authority Act and also how it fits into the overall Bintulu Port Development Plan.

The Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Haji Hasbi bin Haji Habibollah in reply to the issues that has been raised stated that the ministry has established a special committee at Ministerial level and a working committee at official level from the Federal Government and Sarawak Government to address these pertinent issues.

The purpose of this committee was established to be a platform for the Federal Government and the Sarawak Government to carry out the exchange of relevant information regarding the intention of the Sarawak Government to change the status of Bintulu Port from a Federal Port to a State Port.

Discussions that will be carried out include obtaining more information from the Sarawak Government regarding the acquisition method of Bintulu Port.  Once the information has been researched and refined accordingly with the Sarawak Government, the results of the research will be raised to the level of a Special Committee whose membership consists of the Minister of the Ministry of Transport, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah Affairs, Sarawak and Special Tasks), Deputy  Premier of Sarawak, and Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development of Sarawak.  

Once the Special Committee Meeting has been held and the research from the results of the meeting has been completed, this ministry will prepare a Cabinet Memorandum that will be prepared by the Malaysian Ministry of Transport to inform the findings of the discussion and obtain consideration and approval from the Cabinet

While i welcome such a move my main concerns raised are the progress timeline for such action and the Deputy Minister revealed that the first meeting of the committee was supposed to take place on the 1st of November 2023, but was postponed due to some unavoidable circumstances.

I conveyed my hope that the next meeting be schedules as soon as possible as this involves issues of public interest for us and we want to ensure whatever arrangements and agreements that are made, must benefit Sarawak as a whole and serve as a growth catalyst in our region.

I will continue to follow up on this matter in my capacity especially to ensure the timeline is properly adhered to without any unnecessary delays. I am also grateful for the current Prime Minister and Transport Minister who has been consistent in upholding the interest of Sabah & Sarawak as stated in MA63 and the IGC report as such devolution of authority of the port would not have happened of both of them were not open to that principle.