Sabah mulls including Indonesia in barter trade freeze in bid to plug smuggling, security woes
KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 ― The Sabah government is considering banning ships from Indonesia in its review of a temporary freeze on foreign boats entering the state for a barter trade practice, due to suspected smuggling activities.
Sabah state assistant finance minister Datuk Ramlee Marahaban conceded however that the Indonesian merchant ships currently posed no danger, The Borneo Post reported today.
“Barter trade activities have opened up opportunities for smugglers and activities that can jeopardise state security. The government decided to suspend barter trading because of the recent (kidnapping) event,” he was quoted as saying.
Recently, Sabah banned ships from the Philippines for barter, a practice that had been carried out for the past 200 years.
“However, the government will review its decision whether to include Indonesia,” Ramlee was quoted adding.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim previously said that Sabah has decided to temporarily freeze the barter trade practised in the state after the abduction of four Malaysians off its waters earlier this month.
The Sabah Security Committee chaired by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman made this decision in a special meeting to discuss the security condition in the state, Shahidan said.
The four other matters decided by the committee include the immediate temporary freezing of trading activities involving transhipment in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) area.
The ferry services between Sabah’s Kudat and the Philippines’ Palawan that was slated to start on May 1 will now be postponed, while the enforcement on any breaches of laws on the east coast of Sabah will be fully enforced.
On April 1, four Malaysians were abducted by Filipino gunmen off Sabah’s Litigan Island en route from Manila to Tawau.
The four that were on Malaysian-registered tugboat MV Masfive 6 have been identified as Wong Teck Kang, 31, and his brother Wong Teck Chii, 29; Wong Hung Sing, 34; and Johnny Lau Jung Hien, 21.