Not many Malaysians are away or, even bothered with the existence of a cabotage shipping policy in Malaysia.
Apparently, under the cabotage shipping policy, implemented since 1980, domestic trade between any two ports within the Malaysian federation can only be served by Malaysian-owned shipping companies registered in Malaysia's shipping registry.
The cost components for the transportation of goods include freight charges, port charges, forwarding fees, haulage or transport charges, storage charges and terminal handling service costs.
Goods costs more in Sabah and Sarawak
It is a fact wearily accepted by fellow Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak that the same packet of instant noodles cost more than the prices in Semenanjung Malaysia.
Obviously transportation costs are one key factor.
But, if the incidence of poverty is said to be very high in Sabah and Sarawak, couldn't the federal government do more to reduce the obvious price differences?
The irony is that Sabah and Sarawak contribute oil and gas revenues to the federal coffers via the Petroleum Development Act.
The economics of federalism
It is high time that the federal government conduct a serious accounting of the reasons for the price discrimination between Semenanjung Malaysia with Sabah and Sarawak.
More importantly, the federal government should take active measures to institute pricing parity so that the same packet of instant noodles will cost the same anywhere in Malaysia. Saying that distance is a cost factor will not be acceptable past a point.
The irony and central and driving fact should be that the further a citizen lives from the administrative capital and great commercial centres, the more help that citizen needs. This is a fact.
Trust me, it will become a big bugbear as the economy contracts.
I also seem to recall that after the General Elections of March 8 last year, the BN components in Sabah and Sarawak appear to have delivered their part of the bargain.
It's a good time to listen to these working level complaints before they rise to political level complaints.
This, to my mind, is the proper mindset when dealing with federal-state matters.