Better late than never, Nazri says about S’wak withdrawal from Tourism Board (Updated)

PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz (pix) has welcomed the move by the Sarawak government to withdraw its representative from the Malaysia Tourism Board with immediate effect amidst a tiff between the Tourism and Culture Minister and the state over a new tourism tax.

Speaking to theSun, Nazri said while the move seems sudden, it is "better late than never".

"When I made the move to close down Tourism Malaysia's offices (including Sabah and Sarawak), it was to avoid job duplication with state agencies in promoting tourist attractions.

"In that regard, I welcome the move as it benefits them (Sarawak government)," he said today.

This follows the decision by the Sarawak government to withdraw its sole representative in the Malaysia Tourism Board with immediate effect.

"The state government deems that the participation of its representative in Tourism Malaysia is not necessary, as (it duplicates) the role and functions of the Sarawak Tourism Promotion Board," the Chief Minister's Office said in a statement today.

The move comes after an exchange between Mohamed Nazri and Sarawak's state minister in charge of Tourism Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, over the introduction of a new tourism tax, which Abdul Karim had wanted reviewed.

The parliament, at its last sitting, passed the Tourism Tax Bill which will allow the government to impose tourism tax of between RM2.50 and RM20 on a tourist staying at any accommodation premises used as accommodation for tourists, except homestay and Kampung Stay registered under the ministry, premises managed by institutions (education), premises used for training purposes and religious institutions where such facilities are not used for commercial purpose.

The tax will be introduced on July 1.

Mohamed Nazri had criticised Karim as being a "greenhorn and still a kid" for raising concerns over the tax.

Karim had urged the federal government to defer the implementation of the tax for Sabah and Sarawak, saying among others, that it must respect the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and consult these two states before implementing it.

Mohamed Nazri's remarks has since angered netizens as well as Sarawak Barisan Nasional leaders.

Sarawak BN Youth chief and Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, in condemning Nazri's statement against Abdul Karim said the insult was harsh and does not reflect BN's spirit of togetherness.

"Labelling the Sarawak Minister as setahun jagung (inexperienced) and still a kid is an insult to Abdul Karim, who has been given the mandate by the state leadership to lead his ministry," he said in a statement today.

"If there are any issues that needed ironing out, then it should be done in a proper manner, and not by belittling other leaders withing the same coalition," he added.