KOTA KINABALU, February 2, 2017: Tragic incidents at sea, which could have
been avoided, can be greatly reduced if Sabah has complete infrastructure
for its maritime economy and a culture of professionalism among a pool of
trained mariners backed by fully equipped maritime authorities.
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Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee said in
recent years, Sabah's maritime community has progressed from merely taking
part in leisure activities to business activities, especially tourism.
Therefore, he said Sabah is in need of more trained mariners, seafarers
and professional boat operators guided by a legal and licensing framework
with proper supervision and enforcement.
"Instead, the haphazard responses of Sabah's authorities to incidents and
accidents at sea show a lack of grip on maritime incidents. A healthy
maritime industry necessarily includes the business community who is well
versed on maritime matters.
"As I can see, some maritime activities are operated by amateurs with
A case in point is that one of the crew in the ill-fated catamaran bound
for Pulau Mengalum was a vegetable seller who had only just joined the
crew of the catamaran," he said in a statement.
Yong added that as part of the building up of qualified maritime community
in Sabah, a maritime academy or training centre is long overdue.
He insisted that the need for a maritime academy is nothing new and as
early as 1997, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) had prepared a
concept paper entitled "Sabah Maritime Academy".
He said the necessity of a training institute was highlighted in official
reports on Bimp-Eaga integration with a further "Strategic Maritime
Planning in Sabah" presented to the Sabah government in 1998.
"In fact, in view of cross-border crimes at Sabah's Esszone, I had two
years ago reminded in writing to IDS the urgency of having a Maritime
Academy so that Sabah can assert ourselves in our maritime economy and
"This is because most Sabahans have a land-based mindset. We tend to view
the seas, such as the Sulu Sea, as a barrier separating the land whereas
the peoples of the Philippines view the sea as a bridge linking the land
mass and islands together.
"This land-based mindset makes us view the seas as a security liability
rather than a security and asset," he said.
Yong said that it is in Sabah's long term economic and security interests
to develop a comprehensive maritime industry so that it can be in control
of its seas and maritime economy.
As such, he said a Maritime Academy to develop a large pool of qualified
Sabahan mariners, seafarers and maritime engineers, among others, is long