DAP calls for public inquiry into Port Klang operations to turn it from the ‘Black port of South East Asia” into an efficient and leading port in Asia

Speech by Ketua Pembangkang and DAP Secretary-General, Lim Kit Siang, to the DAP Consumers and Environment Protection Bureau at DAP Headquarters on Wednesday, 21st Sept. 1977 at 8 p.m.

DAP calls for public inquiry into Port Klang operations to turn it from the ‘Black port of South East Asia” into an efficient and leading port in Asia

For two months, the Port Klang authorities have not been able to clear the thousands of containers jammed in the Port, causing Malaysia to lose millions of dollars of revenue, and the by-passing of Port Klang by shipping lines.

Thus, American President Line has dropped Port Klang from its major route between the U.S. West Coast and Asia; and American President Lime main line container vessels now load in Singapore and go directly to Hong Kong before crossing the Pacific.

The Communications Minister, Tan Sri Manickavasagam, has been completely helpless in the face of the colossal inefficiency of Port Klang. Last month, he gave the Port Klang authorities a two-week deadline to clear the containers back-log, but this two-week deadline have expired since early this month, and the containers-jam is still uncleared.

Apart from announcing the formation of a top-level committee, to look into port efficiency, there has been no improvement in port performance. Tan Sri Manickavasagam has left for an overseas trip, which he should have cancelled, to get Port Klang to drop its international reputation as the ‘black port of South East Asia’.

The deplorable condition of Port Klang has gain further prominence in international circles with a report in the Asian Wall Street Journal, which must make more shippers hesitate before deciding to make use of Port Klang.

It is shocking that the mechanical breakdowns and lack of maintenance, which have left much of the container terminal equipment disable, had been allowed to reach such a serious magnitude without corrective actions. This indeed speaks of a poor and incompetent management and Ministerial leadership.

Thus, only five or six of the 1 straddlers, used to lift containers from the wharf, stack them in a storage yard, and lift them out again for delivery, were usually working any one time.

If the container terminal in Port Klang had 75% or 12 straddlers working at anyone time, the Port would be able to cope with 195,588 TEQs (or 20-foot Equivalent Containers) a year, and not the present 80,000 TEQs expected this year. This means an enormous amount of loss of revenue.

The Asian Wall Street Journal has quoted a German specialist who carried out a recent study on Port Klang, Burkhard Schliephake, as saying: “It doesn’t matter really whether a terminal is slow or f ast as long as it is reliably slow or fast. Port Klang is to be placed in the slow and unreliable category.”

Urgent action is needed to strip Port Klang of its reputation as the ‘Black Port of South East Asia’, with gross inefficiency and unusually high rate of pilferage and thefts and losses.

It is clear that a new look and a new approach is needed to make Port Klang drop its reputation as “Black Port of South East Asia” and become an efficient, and leading port in Asia.

It is obvious to that the key to port efficiency is sound and efficient management, and a contented and hard-working work force.

Both elements have been missing are absent. There is massive labour unrest and discontent, because of the way the 8,000 port workers had been absorbed into the Port Klang authority since 1.5.1973. previous to that, they were employed by four main private contractors.

For the last five years, the Port Klang Authority and the Government have failed to maintain a sound and harmonious industrial relationship with the work force, and

The Port Klang Authority and the Government should consider urgent measures to improve working conditions for the port workers, which could be met by increased revenues from an efficient port operations.

The DAP therefore calls for a public inquiry into the Port Klang operations, to devise measures to turn in from the ‘Black Port of South East Asia’ into an efficient, and leading port in Asia. This public inquiry must be told to complete its work within two months, because there is no time to waste.