KOTA KINABALU: The Labuan Chamber of Commerce (LCC) has lauded Datuk Seri Anifah Aman’s appointment as the senator representing the island, saying the latter’s experience in foreign affairs will be invaluable to the Federal Territory’s economic growth.
LCC chairman Daniel Doughty said Anifah was a well-known figure in Malaysian politics as well as the former federal foreign minister.
“His appointment is a positive step towards promoting the development of Labuan's economy and improving the welfare of its people,” he said in a statement here on Saturday (March 25).
“His expertise in foreign affairs, his extensive network and knowledge at the federal level will be invaluable in promoting Labuan's economic growth and attracting more foreign investments to the island,” he added.
Anifah and former Tenom MP Noorita Sual were sworn in as senators at the Dewan Negara on Monday (March 20).
Towards this end, Doughty called on Anifah to, among others, to revive the abandoned halal-hub and convert the area into a Free Commercial Zone.
He said this would bring in investments and create job opportunities in re-packing activities in order to grow and strengthen the transhipment industry.
Besides this, he also urged Anifah, who is Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) president, to relocate the roll-on, roll-off (roro) ferry terminal on the island and look into creating a new Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS) centre between Tanjung Aru in Labuan and Mempakul in mainland Sabah.
“We also request that he takes a look into the potential of Labuan to serve as a special regional economic zone under the purview of the Sabah and federal governments and extend these zones to the neighbouring mainland district (in Sabah),” he said.
Doughty said Labuan needed to have its economic development plan aligned to Sabah while moving away from the silo economy mindset.
In turn, he added, Labuan can play a significant role to become the economic enabler and logistical hub supporting the mainland town.
“With the revival of the transhipment activity in Labuan and the approval of six transhipment berthing areas for ship-to-ship operations at Victoria Bay, Labuan, the island is poised to be the transhipment hub for the Brunei–Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines East Asean Growth Area (Bimp-Eaga) region,” he said.
He said the LCC disagreed with the views of Labuan PAS who had questioned Anifah’s appointment, adding it was time to have a shift in mindset on how people viewed Labuan's economic development plans.
“(With Anifah’s appointment) it is an opportunity to reignite dialogue and challenge the status quo to ensure the economy on both shores (Labuan and Sabah) is further strengthened,” Doughty said.