The Perak Government has recklessly placed a huge jetty in Lumut, with construction itself costing a whopping RM 676.8 million, under foreign ownership of Brazilian mining giant Vale International SA.
A jetty is considered a strategic national asset similar to a port which has to be gazetted as a Legal Landing Point.
In the best interest of the country it should remain in the hands of the Government or a local nominee.
The Brazilian company Vale, will bring in and ship out huge amounts of iron ore through the jetty, which will be one of the largest jetties in the country and even the world.
The jetty is part of Vale International’s US$1.37 billion (RM4.07 billion) maritime terminal in Lumut with capacity to dock its mega big Valemax vessels.
What worries us is this…
While the impact of the project in terms of the environmental consequences remains a question, the consequences of allowing a large jetty to remain in foreign hands pose a different set of questions.
And the degree of spinoff- downstream value flow to the people of Perak is unanswered.
The Perak Government under MB Zambry will be setting a very unhealthy precedence if it allows a foreign company to own a jetty in such a strategic shipping port such as Lumut.
Then, there are a host of other issues such as control, regulation and maintenance as well as liability for dues, charges and fees.
Zambry must not allow a jetty so large and important to be operated autonomously by a foreign owner.
It is only right for the Government to retain control of the jetty once completed.
This project is not about fulfilling the objectives of a foreign company simply because they are setting up shop and investing here.
The actions of the Government in allowing Vale to do what it does should ultimately benefit the people of Perak.
Are we, the locals, going to benefit from the project or are we going to be at the losing end?
Even the contracts for constructing Vale’s facilities have largely gone to foreign hands while only a slight number has gone to Malaysian companies.
The RM676.8 million contract to design and construct the jetty went to the Netherlands' Royal BAM Group.
Royal BAM (listed on the Amsterdam stock exchange) partners Australian construction company McConnell Dowell for the construction of the jetty. A local contractor See Yong & Son has received a small part of the job.
A little bit of history…
Prior to coming to Malaysia, Vale had plans to build a facility in Qingdao Harbour in North Eastern of China.
But the plans were unsuccessful because the Chinese steel mills opposed the Qingdao plant as they feared the involvement of foreign miners in local distribution will allow them to promote a spot market for iron ore, further strengthening their pricing power.
Vale also faced considerable pressure to accommodate Chinese ship owners who viewed the entry of such a large number of Valemax ships as competing with Chinese cargo ships for the same iron ore cargo bound for China.
Vale also faces rising competition from Australian miners, who have successfully negotiated a freight premium from Chinese buyers in recent years as its costs less to ship Australian ore to China.
It currently takes about 45 days to ship ore to China from Brazil, but Australian producers are able to deliver ore in a much shorter time.
The Malaysian facility, which will be able to receive Valemax vessels - the world's largest dry bulk carriers with a capacity of 400,000 DWT- is expected to limit this disadvantage, reducing Vale's shipping costs substantially.
The new facility in Teluk Rubiah in Lumut is expected to have an annual throughput capacity of 60 million tons when operations commence in 2014, and will eventually handle up to 200 million tons annually.
Back to our story…
Why is the Perak Government being so nice to Vale?
Does the state government have mechanism to control, monitor and supervise the activities of such a large corporation as Vale?
Just because they show us the big bucks, must we give them what they want, in a silver platter?
And who’s side is Zambry on?
Is he taking care of Perak people’s interest or is he interested in just taking care of Vale’s interest ?
Harapkan pagar, jangan pula pagar makan padi.