Malaysia only does not allow the export of sand mined from its seas, Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar clarified today amid global news reports suggesting the ban aimed to stymie the grand land expansion plans of its southern neighbour, Singapore.
The water, land and natural resources minister added that the government allows the export of river sand, subject to prior approval from the prime minister.
He said these measures were introduced after the Pakatan Harapan (PH) became government to increase revenue for the states and to protect the environment.
“When PH took over the government last May, the Cabinet decided that sea sand cannot be exported to other countries.
“That is the policy for the time being the revenue is very small and it goes to the state. Federal revenue is only through the taxation of the companies,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.
He explained that the other reason for banning the export of sea sand was based on a study by the Minerals and Geoscience Department, which found that the mining of sea sand cannot be done more than three kilometres outside the shoreline to protect the seabed.
“A hydrological study was done in order to ensure the seabed is safe for us to extract the sand because there is environmental impact,” he said.
Dr Xavier said it would not jeopardise bilateral ties with Singapore as far as the business is concerned.
He also said the ban had no correlation with Singapore’s expansion plans on reclaimed land.
“They can always buy sand from other countries for their reclamation process. We have no right to any country from doing that,” he said.
Malaysia is known to be one of the biggest sand suppliers to Singapore.
In its report yesterday, international news agency Reuters cited traders saying the sea sand ban could complicate the island-state’s expansion plans on reclaimed land.