SANDAKAN: The eastern Sabah port here has the potential to be turned into a free trade zone (FTZ) similar to the one in Johor, said Barisan Nasional’s Karamunting candidate Datuk Chew Kok Woh.
The MCA Batu Sapi division chief was confident that he could deliver on the promise.
“The Sandakan Port is under the jurisdiction of the Sabah state government (Sabah Ports) and not under the Transport Ministry.
“But if I am given the mandate by the people, I can forward a proposal to the Finance Ministry for approval,” he said.
Chew added that the creation of an FTZ in Karamunting would have a positive impact on the economic activities in the area as it would bring in visitors.
He said his experience as Bintulu Port Authority deputy chairman from 2015 to 2018 would help him in putting the plan into action.
“The FTZ will see a certain radius area around the Sandakan Port to be tax-free.
“It will also act as a catalyst for other developments such as logistics, tourism and warehouse management, among others,” he said, adding that the port’s plans were part of his six-point election manifesto.
Chew, who faces a seven-corner battle for the seat, also hopes to promote e-commerce through better Internet connectivity in the constituency and create centres for youths to engage in trading and business activities.
“We see the importance of e-commerce, especially during the movement control order period, in which people are still able to generate income through online businesses even when they are at home.
“I also want to develop the traditional Kampung Pukat water village as a homestay spot to help generate income for the local folk,” he said.
“I want Karamunting to be known for having the best water homestay in Sandakan.”
Chew added that his other plans were to upgrade and transform Pasir Putih beach into a recreational beach and to improve the medical facilities in Karamunting.
“I see the need to add more health clinics to ensure that Karamunting folk have access to high-quality healthcare services and facilities.
“Affordable homes for youth in also another aspect that I will look into since there is not even one low-cost housing scheme in Karamunting,” he said.
“Some of the people are living in dilapidated houses. There is a need to build more affordable homes for them, especially those from the lower-income group,” he said.
Tanjung Piai MP Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng, who was here to support Chew during his walkabout in Kampung Bokara on Wednesday, said even though the locals’ response to Chew had been positive, they could not let their guards down.
“Chew must continue to work hard to get close to as many voters as possible to win their hearts and votes,” he said.
“As for the house-to-house campaign, we found that the residents are very friendly and want Barisan to return to helm the state.”