Spat over Tourism Tax over, says DPM (Updated)

PUTRAJAYA: The spat between Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz and leaders from Sarawak and Sabah over the Tourism Tax (TTx) issue was resolved during Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

“The problem between Nazri and Sarawak and Sabah has been resolved. Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak) when chairing the cabinet meeting yesterday (Wednesday, June14) said the problem has been resolved.

“There will be no minister, either from the federal or state level who will make another statement over the issue,” Ahmad Zahid said during a press conference after he closed The Advisory Board for Islamic Education Coordination (Lepai) Warshah Islah (Reform Workshop) 2017 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre here.

Ahmad Zahid said he had personally met Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman to further explain the situation.

“Let’s close the old chapter and open a new one, and about Sarawak's withdrawal from the Tourism Board, just let it be that way.

“I’ve said the issue has been settled so let’s not stir up the situation,” he said.

Ahmad Zahid stressed that the idea of introducing TTx is to use the money collected for tourism promotions

He added the government will not postpone the implementation of the tax which is expected to begin on July 1.

“We feel that one of the problems in tourism promotional activities is the funds. There are states who collect a small amount of that and there are states who contributed a lot.

“So, the idea (of TTx) is to use the funds to promote tourism products," he said.

The issue of the tax first came to light after Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman criticised the federal government for imposing tax laws in Sarawak without consultation, and urged that the July 1 implementation date be deferred.

On a separate issue, Ahmad Zahid stressed that the public should not blame Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar for knowing Gopinathan Krishnan.

Gopinathan, who had allegedly collected bribes from operators running illegal businesses which were said to have been channelled to the police, is being probed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

“It is normal for a police personnel, or even ministers to know anyone. But the relationship is not based on the criminal behaviour of the third party, so it’s not fair to relate this (Gopinathan's probe) with the IGP,” he said.