KOTA KINABALU: Sabah plans to revive barter trade with neighbouring countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia, which was halted by the previous government on security concerns.
Its Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, said the trading system would be streamlined with new rules to ensure that it was functioning as intended without contravening the country’s laws.
“We will discuss issues related to barter trade at the level of the Sabah state, the Philippines and Indonesia. I have requested for the matter to be discussed at the Cabinet level so we can revive the barter trade, but we need to install a system.
“We need to prepare the landing ports for the barter traders. There are several landing points, namely Kudat, Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Tawau,” he told reporters after chairing the state cabinet meeting here Wednesday.
According to Mohd Shafie, among the rules that the parties involved must adhere to is to refrain from selling subsidised goods such as cooking oil and rice from this country to their overseas trading partners.
However, he said, other unsubsidised products such as food from neighbouring countries and from Sabah itself could be traded through the system.
Asked why the barter system was being revived, Mohd Shafie said there were many requests from the parties involved in such activities as their business suffered following the move to freeze barter trade.
“A study conducted by University Malaysia Sabah found many incurred losses as a result of the cessation of the trading system. Quite a number of shops were closed down and reduced job opportunities not only in Sabah but also in neighbouring countries.
“Furthermore, the neighbouring countries are facing economic problems. If their people do not have jobs, they may resort to kidnapping. Therefore, by ensuring that people have jobs and income (through the barter trade), it may reduce the chances of their involvement in unhealthy activities,” he added.
Mohd Shafie said the relevant agency had been instructed to prepare a report and a proposal regarding the method of implementing the system, and if everything had been completed, the implementation of the system.
Elaborating on the proposed issuance of a special document for migrant plantation workers in Sabah, he said the committee chaired jointly by State Secretary Tan Sri Sukarti Wakiman and Sabah Immigration Director Musa Sulaiman had been given two weeks to work out the details for the implementation.
He added that the proposal to issue the special documents came about following complaints from the plantation operators across the state that labour shortage had affected their operations.