MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Friday, January 29, 2016

Sabahans keen to get back ‘suffering’ Labuan

Sabah will be more than pleased to take back Labuan especially since the island was federalized in 1984 without any compensation, unlike in the case of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.
KOTA KINABALU: The Opposition in Labuan and Sabah has called for the return of the island, designated an international offshore financial centre, tax-free haven and duty-free port, to the Sabah Government if the Federal Government finds it a liability.
“If Putrajaya finds Labuan a liability, it should return the island to the former administration, the Sabah Government.”
“Sabah will be more than pleased to take Labuan back especially since the island was federalized in 1984 without any compensation, unlike in the case of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya. The Selangor Government was paid RM4 billion for Kuala Lumpur alone,” chipped in Lau Seng Kiat, an independent candidate in the last General Election in 2013.
The renewed uproar over the fate of the island comes amidst talk that Labuan may yet lose its duty-free status, with the announcement of the timing being the only consideration. One complaint in Putrajaya is that the Federal Government was losing millions in Labuan through rampant smuggling of duty-free liquor and cigarettes, among others, from the island to Sabah and through Miri to the rest of Sarawak.
PKR Labuan Chief Simsudin Sidek, adding his voice to the debate, said that if the voters in Labuan are not willing to change their MP from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) to the Opposition, “They should not complain”.
“It’s time that the people in Labuan re-assessed the BN’s presence on the island and decide whether it should be dumped, come 2018, to teach it a lesson for ignoring them.”
“This may force things to change for the better as the Federal Government would then have to take notice of the problems the islanders face.”
He claimed that the Opposition can do better in Labuan if given a chance. “Even the local BN parties would support us.”
He cited the recently implemented revision in the water rates as an example. “A mineral water company, which used to pay RM800 per month, was now paying more than RM2,000 per month. This is not the only case.”
“The Water Department promised to review the rates. It has been months and still there’s no sign of the promised revision.”
There are other issues, added Simsudin, like the long-proposed Labuan Bridge, tourism, a proposed new integrated port, land reclamation and the local oil and gas industry going nowhere with thousands laid off. “Even Labuan’s international offshore financial centre status was of no help to the island.”
“All the work is being done in Kuala Lumpur with Labuan being used as a post box address.”
Tourism, said the local PKR Chief, was “a failed industry in Labuan”. He drew a comparison with Langkawi which gets 3.5 million tourists a year. “We are struggling to bring in one million tourists a year.”
Labuan, he said, was served by only three airlines with connections to Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Miri. “Langkawi was served by at least five local airlines, Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Malindo, Firefly and Langkawi-based Rayani Air.”

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