LABUAN: The Board of Directors of the newly-established Labuan Port Authority (LPA) has yet to make a decision on whether Labuan Liberty Port Management Sdn Bhd (LLPM) would continue to manage the free port.
Wee Jeck Seng, the LPA chairman said working papers presented by keen industry players across the country were still being assessed.
LLPM had been operating the port, known as Labuan liberty port since 1998, independently without government funds.
“A number of working papers were presented to us; we are still assessing them thoroughly before finalising to ensure we choose competitive industry players, to play a bigger role in the Labuan liberty port,” he told Bernama.
He said the decision would be purely professional without political interference.
Jeck Seng said the question on whether an ‘outsider’ (not from Labuan) would be taking over the port management, did not arise.
“We cannot make a decision based on views of a few people in Labuan or from the existing operator, as our concerns are to see that the port runs efficiently with a lot of activities.
“We are trying to find a better solution, how to help develop Labuan port; we will come up with a transparent decision,” he said, adding, it was not appropriate to reappoint LLPM without assessment.
He stressed that LLPM must go through the same technical evaluation process like other keen industry players.
“We have received the working paper presented by the existing operator, as we want them to have the opportunity to take part in the evaluation process; we will not sideline local interest,” he said.
Jeck Seng disagreed that appointing a new operator that is not from Labuan would be to the island’s loss, as LPA’s main concern was for the future of the port.
The Labuan liberty port may have been small but it played a major role in the heydays of the oil and gas (O & G) sector of Malaysia’s International Financial Centre (IFC) here.
In its time, LLPM managed with seven warehouses, more than 30 long haul trailers (including the outsources), and a trained workforce of 130, to take care of domestic and international vessels, including the backend support, according to Mohd Alias Abd Rahman, its chief executive officer.
“To ease and expedite cargo handling, the port is also equipped with a reach stacker (a vehicle used for handling intermodal cargo containers in small terminals or medium-sized ports), which is able to transport containers over short distances very quickly and pile them in various rows depending on its access.
“While millions of ringgit had been invested to turn it into a capable facility in the interest of the country’s image, many people are unaware of the fact that Labuan liberty port is the only port here that can provide containerised cargoes, and this is partly the result of an in-house developed container tracking system by the LLPM,” he said.