Kota Kinabalu, Monday, 12 June 2017: “Judging from the backlash and revelations by the federal Tourism Minister arising from the tourism tax, the logical conclusion is that the federal Tourism Ministry should be abolished. The federal Ministry’s allocations can then be better deployed in the other ministries like defence, health, education or rural development” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) President cum Bingkor Assemblyman in response to the latest news report by the Minister that the Ministry had to find alternative income sources to supplement the federal budget allocation and Sarawak’s withdrawal from the federal Tourism Board.

Being arrogant and insolent in his response to the Sarawak Tourism Minister is one thing. But it is unacceptable that the federal Tourism Ministry had to impose the tourism tax because the federal allocation is insufficient to meet the Ministry’s needs. If such is the case, it is obvious that the Ministry also cannot function properly or efficiently without proper funds.

The timely announcement by the Sarawak government to withdraw its representative in the Tourism Board and whispers that Sarawak gets little benefit from the federal tourism anyway, shows that there is no need for a federal tourism ministry.

Furthermore, Sabah and Sarawak can better handle their own ministry and their tourism products much better having better understanding of the local circumstances. The histories, cultures and traditions of Sabah and Sarawak are worlds apart from Malaya.

Tourism products which are unique to Sabah and Sarawak need not be overshadowed or restrained by Malayan bureaucracy or way of thinking. The individual States in Malaya can handle their own tourism and better manage their tourism portfolio.

If, the Malaya States wish to be under a Malayan Ministry and adopt Arab culture and traditions, they are at liberty to do so but not at the expense of Sabah and Sarawak.

If such is the case, the Tourism Ministry need not scratch his head looking for additional revenue sources. The only problem with an abolishment would be that Minister Nazri would be out of a job. But then again, he could go back and apply to be the Tourism Minister for Perak or to be the Assistant Tourism Minister in Sabah or Sarawak if he qualifies.

In agreement with Sarawak’s stand, the federal tourism only duplicates what is in existence in Sabah and Sarawak and merely increases unnecessary costs and spending. With its abolishment, the resources and allocations could be better deployed and the federal government would have one minister less to pay.

At the same time with the abolishment of the Federal Tourism Ministry, the federal government should undertake an overall exercise to review the existence of other Ministries and abolish them if required. Some of these Ministries would include Agriculture, Local Government, Land and Regional Development and other Ministries which are best handled by existing State Ministries.

Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan
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