LABUAN: Parti Bersatu Sabah Labuan views the call for the island to be returned to Sabah by its Member of Parliament Datuk Suhaili Abdul Rahman as a manifestation of the frustrations felt by Labuanites over the failure of the Federal Government in developing the island as promised and committed when it was federalised in 1984.
PBS Labuan Division Chief Datuk Peter Mak said after almost 40 years as a Federal Territory, there is still a long way for Labuan to enjoy the development bestowed upon its two sister-Federal Territories – Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.
To aggravate matters, he said retrogressive laws and actions which do not benefit or are disadvantageous to the island have been put in place, such as the imposition of duty for tobacco products and restrictive visa-on-arrival (VOA) for foreign tourists visiting Labuan.
“At the same time, basic infrastructure and amenities like ample, clean and efficient water supply and the proposed Labuan bridge linking the island to mainland Sabah are not seeing the light of day.
“On the same token, there is no concrete development plan being executed for the island, with the Labuan Development Blueprint 2030 seemingly being ‘swept under the carpet’,” said Mak, who is also PBS Vice President, in a statement today.
He said under the prevailing and prolonged circumstances, it is timely to revisit the administrative status of Labuan including the option of returning it to Sabah and developing it as a Special Development Zone that comes with specific legislative privileges taking into consideration the island’s important economic contributions to the oil and gas industry.
“While it is unfair to say that Labuan has not developed at all under the Federal Government, much more remains to be done,” he said.
Notwithstanding the present situation, he said the people of Labuan should be accorded the right to choose whether they wish to return to Sabah or remain as a Federal Territory, unlike the arbitrary decision taken 40 years ago.