LABUAN, Feb 23 (Bernama) -- The federal government will not turn a blind eye on the future of Labuan's economic development after more than three decades of the duty-free island's establishment as part of the Federal Territories.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said Labuan which served as the international financial services and oil and gas centre, had always been cared for, in the best possible way by the federal government.
"We do not want to see Labuan lagging. It (Labuan) is like a child having been handed over by the biological mother to the father (federal government).
"Thus, it is now the responsibility of the father to safeguard the child's well-being and carry out the trust in the best possible way.
"For us, safeguarding Labuan is like pampering a child, many may see it as spoiling (the child), but we need to spoil and shower love upon Labuan...so when the child is in pain, we have to make sure the child is well cared for," he told reporters after launching the handing-over of crop incentive and 'Sentuhan Kasih Tani' programmes at the Kilan Agricultural Park here today.
He said Labuan should shift to another sector that could generate its economy for the long term and not solely rely on the oil and gas sector.
The announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to build a bridge from Labuan to Sabah is a game changer for the transformation of the Labuan economic landscape, he said, adding that his ministry would also play a role in helping Labuan in its economic transformation through fisheries and agricultural development projects.
"We want to ensure that plans to turn Labuan into a tourism destination will be achieved with sufficient supply of diversified food and fruits," he said.
He said his ministry would also help reduce the dependence on food supply such as vegetables and fruits from Sabah, which led to a rise in food prices on the tax-free island due to transportation costs.
Prior to that, he presented incentives totaling RM423,100 to six agricultural development programmes involving 896 participants.