Exposing the ‘Penang free port’ sham promise

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Promises are being made that Penang will get back its free port status if certain political parties are elected. Guest writer SamG exposes the ‘free port’ myth.

Both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat have promised Penang free port status. Does it sound too good to be true? Another hollow promise by Penang BN?

Before I am questioned, how did the Free Port status work before 1970s? Simple, there were little taxes and duties for cigarettes, cars and alcohol. Going across to Province Wellesley was a big event, let alone to cross the borders to other states like Kedah or Perak. Times have changed, taxes have gone up and lifestyles have changed completely since then.

The question is what exactly will be put in place. There are several possibilities:

a) A replica of Langkawi and Labuan which covers cigarettes, alcohol and cars.

b) A limited “Free Port” status where, these three key products, i.e. cars/alcohol/cigarettes would not enjoy “tax-free” or duty free status.

c) Another point, which has not been discussed, is the 6 per cent service tax we are paying for Telekom, mobile phones, Astro, restaurant bills, McDonalds, KFC, legal fees and everything that attracts the tax.

d) Will only Penang Island enjoy this status or will it include the entire Penang state (Island and Seberang Perai)?

e) Technically Penang Island port only handles passenger/cruise liner traffic and not goods shipments. All goods are routed through the port on the mainland. Hence the whole port area should be declared duty free

I really don’t have the figures on how many CBU cars are sold in Penang. If Penang gets CBU cars tax free, Proton and Perodua sales in Penang would collapse. It really does not matter, whether islanders or mainlanders can benefit, as a large portion of mainlanders would have their addresses changed to the island some way or another.

On the other hand, if the entire Penang state is the Free Port Zone, then it is another infrastructure for a Kastam DiRaja Malaysia nightmare.

In Singapore and Johor, where hundreds of thousands of people cross the border each day, there are basically only two crossings. The main products which would be of interest are cigarettes and petrol. Singapore has imposed tight controls.

In Penang/Kedah and Penang/Perak we have a totally porous border. Hence the entire northern region would be fed by smuggled goods from Penang. Once again bearing in mind the billions of ringgit losses for the federal government, it would mean other sectors would suffer from inadequate development funds.

Assuming to the government decided to only consider the island for this special free port status, does that mean all car dealers, pubs and cigarette sellers in Seberang will end up going bust? With so many crossing the bridge, why drink or smoke duty-paid stuff? How would the small mini markets, supermarkets and hypermarkets in the bordering towns survive? The government would be destroying communities in all the small towns.

With 140000 plus cars using the Penang Bridge, do we have to go through customs check everyday? Can you imagine the traffic chaos going to work? If cars are duty free, do we have to declare our cars everytime we leave Penang? How is it possible to track all the cars of Penangites who live and drive outside the state? This proves once again it is all a fiasco.

So it looks like the free port status is only going to cover raw materials used in manufacturing. That too most companies have licensed manufacturing warehouse status for export goods/raw materials.

The whole free port talk is just crap. I feel it is a total sham and scam from both sides.

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Moaz

#3 Customs guy shot dead in Putrajaya … coincidence or not?

SamG

Tunglang, The Traffic Jams are secaondary. Its the smuggling and destruction of Seberang Perai economy that is of primary concern

tunglang

Then JB must have suffered a lot the last 4 decades! Seberang Perai can develop its own business minus the cost of transportation from distant duty free spots like Langkawi or Labuan. Unless one is thinking solely of cigarettes & wine for instant satisfaction as the ‘core’ business of Seberang. Time for SP to change to catch up with LGE’s cosmopolitan vision for Pulau Pinang. As a matter of observance, has free port status Langkawi developed much integrally & horizontally speaking besides the LIMA event? How much of entrepreneurial progress we are witnessing besides the cut-throat prices at the stalls?… Read more »

tunglang

Why not free port status for Penang again? It has happened before & was a reality until that kutty changed all that prospered Penangites. I would say it was a political-economic decision of malice against a state with majority Chinese. So, let us not be like (behave) that kutty but be more proactive – plan, act & visionary – when approaching this free port status of contention for Penang. Whoever wins, this free port status still belongs to Penangites, not to that kutty, not to Feds, not to negative minds of political malice. The Devil is in the details, why… Read more »

Ahmad Sobri

Talking about free port, this Cap Ayam, Chicken Teng, has unashamedly used this matter to win votes. But, are Penangnites as stupid as Teng and the Gerakan Kid? If Najib dared not promised the free port status during his high profile visits to Penang, who is Chicken Teng? Wah.. surely Penangnites must be blessed, mono rail, free port status and what not? After PRU 13, these wannabes will just disappear into thin air. Shocking is the performance of this GELAKAN BN UMNO chief, he has got no issues so far, we want to hear what plans BN has for Penangnites,… Read more »

semuanya OK kot

The Mad … was so jealous of Penang that he tried to take away each advantage and transfer it to his “kingdom” up north. He even tried this with the unique ferry.

Yang

No UMNO BN did not field Ibrahim. But Umno gives way to Ibrahim in Pasir Mas See the lies and deceits of BN UMNO & Ah Cheap Kor See how they support RACIST & candidates that call for the burning of the Bible, or one that belittle the Hindu religions and Chinese culture or one that use thuggery, violence and mobster. Can we believed in the above lies perpetuated by Gerakan in collusion with BN UMNO Ah Cheap Kor Remember a vote for Gerakan is a Vote for Perkasa is a vote (for calls) to burn the Bible is a… Read more »

martin

TRUTHFUL ON THIS….. PENANG DESTROYED by M KUTTY I agreed with the writer and I also hope BN OR UMNO , MCA and GERAKAN first priority to GERAKAN BETTER GO FLY KITES I disagree that BN HATE PENANG SO MUCH…? But WHY DIDN’T THEY VOICE OUT AND FIGHT FOR PENANG BACK THEN WHEN THEY WERE IN POWER especially GERAKAN AND MCA…? TELL ME WHY….???????? Cos GERAKAN AND MCA team up as sworm brothers, U help me I help U our gang leader M KUTTY Yes ,CM Lim Chong Yu has voiced out but then some hidden compromise agenda the matter… Read more »

Gerakan K (Team)

@Desmond Lee Chee Moon,

do not shout like a fool. Follow blog rule, please.

Andrew I

It’s for the hard of hearing like you.

Desmond Lee Chee Moon

Re : THIS PENANG FREE PORT ISSUE – 101% BLAME IT ON BN AND DR MAHATHIR. MAHATHIR WAS THE ONE WHO … KILLED PENANG FREE PORT WHICH WAS STRIVING AND BRINGING IN TOURISM REVENUE AND SOCIAL ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES AS WELL AS MORE INVESTMENT TO PENANG. M… KUTTY JUST HAD TO SHIFT IT TO LANGKAWI ….????? WHY MUST BN AND MAHATHIR KILL PENANG’S FREE PORT TO ONLY BENEFIT LANGKAWI…? THEN MAHATHIR AND BN GOVERNMENT STOP ALL DIRECT FLIGHTS TO PENANG FROM OVERSEAS..LIKE JAPAN PENANG TWIN CITIES FUKOKU AND SHIKOKU DIRECT FLIGHTS TO PENANG. THEN THEY CHOP OFF PERTH AND ADELAIDE TWIN… Read more »

tunglang

That Mr Kutty is the worst public enemy of Penangites. Many of Penang’s opportunities & competitive edge & multicultural attraction in the 70s – 90s were burnt away by his kutty plan + kutty cunning. He has so much envy & hatred of this Pearl of the Orient island south of his beloved but void+cursed Helang island, which I hope will forever be cursed as long as this kutty resides therein. To make things worst, we did have had a Boh Hoot Cina … who called this kutty “Abang” for the slightest backbone. But CHANGE is already happening under LGE’s… Read more »

Yang

I have said many many times, don’t listen to the lies and deceits of BN UMNO Ah Cheap and their sycophants.

Free port status is no more workable in this globalized environment. Even Singapore free port is no more feasible with the high value of their currency. Free duty of cigarettes and liquor will only be good for the smuggler.

As for the monorail, they have lie before, can you believe them again. How many lies do you want to have from Ah Cheap & UMNO. Once bitten twice shy. Sorry its not once bitten, its bitten too many times.