KOTA KINABALU: The devolution of authority when it comes to deep-sea fishing licences is a first step towards Sabah gaining greater autonomy from the Federal government, says Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
He said he was delighted that there was progress in the efforts of the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah state government to regain the state's autonomy.
"This is an excellent step toward achieving Sabah and Sarawak’s autonomy. I thank the Federal government and my counterpart, Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ronald Kiandee for making this possible," said Kitingan.
Kitingan said this in a statement on Saturday (Dec 4) after accepting the letter of empowerment on deep sea fishing licences in Sabah at the State Assembly Building.
The event was organised by the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs). Also present were Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.
Kitingan said as a result of the devolution of power, his ministry via the Sabah Fisheries Department, would now be able to process and issue deep sea fishing licences in Sabah and Labuan.
"The next step is for the Sabah government to enact our own laws on fisheries. This is a huge development and a win for the GRS-led Sabah government that we are able to achieve this," he said.
"Prior to today, everything linked to deep sea licence had to go to the Federal level which was inconvenient and a loss to our fishing industry," added Kitingan.
Kitangan said that the GRS state government would continue to work with Ongkili’s ministry to achieve full autonomy.
"The bottom line is, we want our rights back, and I am delighted we are making progress in that direction," said Kitingan.