Putrajaya says no plans to return Labuan to Sabah, build connecting bridge

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KOTA KINABALU, Feb 28 — Putrajaya said today it has no immediate plans to return the economically stunted federal territory of Labuan to Sabah, as its priority is to work with the state to revive the offshore financial centre.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also said that building a bridge to connect the two areas is also not a priority for the federal government.

“To me this is not an issue,” he told reporters during his visit here, referring to the return of Labuan.

“The main issue is that Labuan is sluggish in development so it’s up to the state to immediately undertake measures to try and revive it. Labuan must be developed. We will work with Sabah together to revive it,” he added.

He said that the chief secretary is monitoring this together with the treasury.

“I have avoided big projects like the MRT3, HSR (high-speed rail), and the new Kulim airport in Kedah. I have been ferociously attacked for that but I am an economic realist. We spend on what we are able to,” he said, referring to the bridge proposal.

Recently, several parties have brought up the proposal for the bridge again, saying that the offshore island needed a desperate economic boost.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) vice-president and Labuan division chief Datuk Peter Mak said the island needs a bridge connecting it to mainland Sabah in order for the offshore financial island to grow and realise its true potential.

The Kedayan Commerce and Trading Chambers spokesman Mohd Faizal Malik also said a bridge was needed by both businesses and the public for logistics and travel options.

Proposals for the bridge began some 20 years ago but have yet to materialise.