Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Karim: I don't blame State BN MPs

June 14, 2017, Wednesday

Abdul Karim speaks to reporters.

KUCHING: Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah does not blame state Barisan Nasional MPs for not participating in the Tourism Tax Bill debate as the debate was carried out in the wee hours of the morning.

He also said the Bill was the last to be debated that day out of six Bills scheduled in the Parliamentary Sitting’s Order of the Day.

“We must understand and look at it from a point of view that the Bill was the last to be tabled in the Parliament Sitting and if I’m not mistaken, it was tabled around 1am and ended around 4am.

“In my opinion, the hours are regarded as the time for people to sleep so why it (debate) was done in desperation (keadaan terdesak)…only Parliament knows the answer to that,” he told reporters when met after witnessing the passing of the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games Torch at Kuching Waterfront here yesterday.

Asked if he had spoken with any state BN MPs since the heated argument between him and Minister of Tourism and Culture Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz broke out, Abdul Karim said he had asked them on what the situation was like at the time.

“I did inquire with Sarawak BN MPs on what the situation was like, what time the debate was held, and whether anyone (from Sarawak) was involved in the debate. They told me that not everyone was in the chambers and there were even some MPs who fell asleep in the chambers.

“This is why sometimes I feel that the procedure or our legislature should be more refined so as not to cause complications where for instance during debates, there must be a certain amount of allowance given,” he said.

Abdul Karim said he did not blame any state BN MPs or state federal ministers for not being involved in the Tourism Tax Bill debate.

“A human body can only take a certain level so if we drag on for a prolonged period of time, I don’t think the body can take it.

“Besides, who would want to debate at 4 in the morning?”.

On a related matter, Abdul Karim, when asked to comment on blogger Papagomo’s statement on the issue, said the controversial blogger should not be involved in this matter.

“He has been up and down in the blogging world. It’s best he just sleep.”

It is understood from the Parliamentary Hansard dated April 5, no Sarawak MPs from both side of the bench participated on the debate to stress their views on the Tourism Tax.

All eyes are now on the issue ever since Nazri warned Abdul Karim to learn to be a minister before opening his mouth following the state minister’s query on why the state was not consulted in regards to the enforcement of the new Tourism Tax.

“We’re both BN ministers. You are a new minister and still wet behind the ears whereas I have been a minister for years and years. Come and see me, don’t talk so much,” he was quoted as saying by a news portal after speaking to reporters during the Iftar@KL 2017 at Dataran Merdeka on Sunday.

Abdul Karim recently said the state government wanted to have consultation and discussion with the federal government to defer enforcement of the Tourism Tax, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1.

He also said the state cabinet would discuss in detail the implementation of the new tax in the state soon to seek an amicable solution to the issue.

On this, Abdul Karim said the next state cabinet meeting is expected to be held on June 22 where the ministers will be discussing on Sarawak’s stand on the matter and how best to go about solving it.

“We have to wait for the decision from the cabinet meeting. Whatever the outcome, we have to look at this holistically so as to not create complications to both federal and state governments,” he said, adding that the state government always had a way of resolving problems.

The Tourism Tax, which was tabled and passed by a majority vote at the last parliamentary sitting earlier this year, is set to see rates ranging from RM2.50 to RM20 charged for a night’s stay. -TheBorneoPost

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