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Return Labuan to Sabah says Tangau

KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau has urged the government to return Labuan to Sabah, claiming Putrajaya has failed to develop the tax-free island as promised.

The Tuaran MP said the unemployment rate in Labuan still remained alarmingly high, at over 7%, despite being under federal jurisdiction for quite some time, with various taxation laws being introduced and approved.

He said Labuan’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was the second highest in Malaysia, after Kuala Lumpur, at RM85,560, believed to be due to the local oil and gas sector.

“However, most of these activities are part of the Sabah government’s initiatives under Asian Supply Base Sdn Bhd (ASB), not federal initiatives. If ASB were to leave Labuan, we would lose 5,000 job opportunities.

“The people of Labuan are questioning whether it is worthwhile for Labuan to remain a federal territory … how will it benefit the people of Labuan or Sabah?” he asked in the Dewan Rakyat.

Tangau said some companies registered through the Labuan Financial Services Authority (Labuan FSA) eventually moved their operations to Kuala Lumpur.

“Why do we allow such companies to do this? If they can attract investors or do good business, why not in Labuan?” he asked.

Tangau, a former federal minister, questioned the extent to which the federal government has taken steps to ensure the development and progress of Labuan as envisioned.

“If it’s not going as planned, return Labuan to Sabah. Perhaps the customs and culture could be used to promote the island. While Labuan hosts a state court, do the administrators in the federal territory truly understand what’s happening within it?” he asked.

Last week, The Borneo Post quoted former chief minister Yong Teck Lee as saying that the return of Labuan to Sabah was inevitable.

This is because of the repeated and glaring failures of the federal government to keep its promises to Sabah and Labuan during the process of federalisation of Labuan in 1984, he said.

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