Monday, 29 June 2020

It is just another political tactic

I was recently interviewed on the proposal by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s to nominate Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal as the candidate for Malaysia's premier post from the opposition party. I believed Dr Mahathir is old and the Langkawi Member of Parliament can be described as “babo” (which in Sarawak Malay means senile) in the vain attempts to regain power to become the prime minister.
The proposal to nominate Datuk Seri Shafie for the prime minister’s post was another political tactics by the learned Dr Mahathir to divert people’s attention because he loves to spice up Malaysian politics with all kinds of comments. In fact, whatever things he said will always be picked up by the media. To me, it is just a diversionary effort by him. Sometimes, I feel he is already babo (senile) because only senile people will do that.
In respond to  comments on Dr Mahathir’s proposal to nominate Datuk Seri Shafie as the candidate from the opposition party to become the prime minister, I believed that it is Dr Mahathir himself who wanted to cling on to power and to become the prime minister of Malaysia once again.
Instead, he nominated Shafie to divert the people’s attention from him. On another note, it is my personal views that our present Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has done a good job to lead the country in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. He has also done well to revive the country’s economy due to global economic slowdown. I have also raised the question as to why Dr Mahathir wanted to create uncertainties in the political situation of Malaysia when Muhyddin is doing a good job steering the country forward.
Hence, I felt it is strange and perplexed as to why Dr Mahathir nominated Datuk Seri Shafie to become the prime minister candidate when there is a good prime minister in place now.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Inisiatif Kerajaan Negeri Sarawak dalam industri pelancongan patut dihargai

Baru baru ini saya telah menyuarakan rasa kesal dengan segenlintir rakan rakan kita dalam industri pelancongan yang tidak puas hati dengan inisiatif yang dilakukan oleh Kerajaan Negeri Sarawak.
Ada dalam kalangan pemain industri berasakan insentif diberikan kerajaan terutamanya bagi menghadapi kesan wabak COVID-19 yang mereka kata tidak mencukupi. Saya tahu ada beberapa pemain industri pelancongan mereka mungkin tidak gembira dengan insentif yang diberikan kerana bagi mereka ia tidak cukup.
Pelancongan bukan satusatunya industri yang ada, banyak lagi industri lain. Sekurang-kurangnya, kerajaan telah melakukan yang terbaik untuk membantu menunaikan atau memberi bantuan. Malahan mereka yang tidak berpuas hati itu boleh memikirkan industri lain sebagai perniagaan kerana pelancongan bukan satu-satunya industri yang ada. Kita tahu, industri ini memang memerlukan lebih banyak (insentif), namun kita harus mempertimbangkan (pemain industri lain) juga kerana kita mempunyai banyak lagi pemain dalam industri ini.
Jika kita melihat hanya satu sahaja, bagaimana pula yang lain, kita perlu melihat perkara ini secara keseluruhan,” katanya. Sementara itu, dalam ucapan saya semasa majlis makan malam bersama Datuk Seri Hajah Nancy Shukri pada 25 Jun lalu saya juga berkata, dengan pembukaan semula pelancongan domestik, beberapa strategi telah dikenal pasti untuk membantu memulihkan industri pelancongan, seni dan kraf di negeri ini. Antara strategi yang ada ialah membina keyakinan untuk datang ke Sarawak PascaCOVID-19 dengan membantu pemain pelancongan menerusi Pakej Insentif Pelawat (VIP) bernilai RM1 juta. Kerajaan negeri juga menyediakan kapasiti digital pemain industri pelancongan dengan memperuntukkan RM250,000 Dana Ekosistem Pelancongan Dalam Talian Sarawak, Insentif Pakej (BEPIP) berjumlah RM1 juta dan Program Pembangunan Acara Perniagaan (BEDP) dan banyak lagi.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Sarawak is projecting 2 million visitors this year

 Sarawak is pro­ject­ing to re­ceive only two mil­lion tourists this year, less than half of last year’s fig­ure, be­cause of the im­pact of Covid-19 which had affected the global tourism industry including in Malaysia. The target for this year is sig­nif­i­cantly lower be­cause the coro­n­avirus out­break has forced Sarawak to close its doors to tourists for about three months.
Our tar­get last year was five mil­lion tourists. This year, I would be very happy if we had only two mil­lion tourists. Yesterday I have informed our Media friends about this af­ter at­tend­ing a dia­logue on the state tourism in­dus­try held at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) yes­ter­day.
I have also said tourist ar­rivals in Sarawak had dropped by 48.9 per cent in the first five months of this year, with losses suf­fered by the in­dus­try es­ti­mated at RM3 bil­lion. Ac­cord­ing to him, the in­dus­try is now fo­cus­ing on do­mes­tic tourism to set the sec­tor on the road to re­cov­ery.
We are not ex­pect­ing Sarawak to re­ceive so many for­eign tourists in the next six months. This was due to the fact that the bor­ders of many coun­tries were still closed and Sarawak would re­quire vis­i­tors to the state to un­dergo a 14-day quar­an­tine. The Min­istry of Tourism, Arts and Culture had also set aside RM1 mil­lion to in­tro­duce a Vis­i­tors In­cen­tive Pack­age (VIP) for the ben­e­fit of lo­cal Sarawak tour com­pa­nies, ef­fec­tive from July 1 to Dec 31 this year. The amount of in­cen­tives would de­pend on the num­ber of tourists who booked through the tour com­pa­nies and their length of stay in the state

Sarawak tourism industry will bounce back

The effects of Covid-19 pandemic has badly affected the tourism industry worldwide this year but our State’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has vowed to come up strong next year. Recently I was invited to the “Post Covid-19 Tourism Dialogue Session” held at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) and during the opening remarks I  admitted that it was a tough war to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic which has resulted in major tourism events such as the renowned Rainforest World Music Festival and hosts of other major events were forced  to be cancelled this year.
This year we already made our decision whereby we will postpone it (Rainforest World Music Festival) for this year but we will come up very strongly next year. It’s not just the Rainforest World Music Festival but also other major events such as the Spartan Race, Marathon and Jazz Music Festival will also be cancelled.
On a related issue, I had informed our industry partners that my ministry had assisted the tourism players during the MCO which was triggered by Covid-19 pandemic which struck Sarawak hardest from February-April. We did get feedbacks from them (tourism players), the suffering which they are facing. That’s why we have come up with some incentives and also the feedback we got from them we bring up to the state government whereby the government have come up with various incentives.
Among them, the assistance for park and tourist guides and boat operators. This proposal (to assist them) came up from the industry players whereby I brought it up to the Chief Minister and he endorsed it straight away. Thus, the tourism industry also benefited from the state government’s various other incentives such as the reduced utilities tariffs during the MCO period. If we gathered all of them, of course, there are so many miseries that we would be hearing. But all industries are facing some kinds of problems here and there. And apart from the incentives that we have come up with for the tourism players, the government also got its own (incentives) which somehow will assist those involved. Other initiatives provided by the tourism ministry include waver of hotel licences and initiating aggressive promotions both at domestic and international levels.
That’s why when we get the feedback from them, we will be negotiating with agencies which are also doing tourism, take for example SEDC which is looking after Sarawak Cultural Village. I don’t think we should have that kind of rate since we are trying to promote people from coming in, both domestically or foreigners.
There must be a lot of things to offer to entice them because it’s not only about us offering promotions. Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam are also coming with so many kinds of promotions. So if their promotions are so much better, then people will tend to go there,” he said, adding that the State would promote special tourism incentives in the next six months.
Personally I did not foresee foreigners could come visiting the country yet but hoped that domestic tourism will pick up soon but we will give more focus to domestic as well as two of our neighbouring countries such as Brunei and Singapore. Once things are getting better, then we will open up for Indonesia for medical tourism, a lot of them are Indonesians. Once you stop them from coming in, our private hospitals will be suffering also because a lot of their patients come from Indonesia,” he added.

Friday, 12 June 2020

Questioning authenticity of claims on 100 budget hotels in Sarawak had closed done or were wound up.

I had questioned the authenticity of the figures given to the public by former chairman of Sarawak Chapter of Malaysia Budget Hotel Association which alleged that there are 100 local hotels are closing down or going to close down. I have also asked if a survey had been carried out on this matter and I need to check on this. 
If it is true…I would say this is alarming. If it is not true, then I am wondering why a former Sarawak Chapter of Malaysia Budget Hotel Association is giving wrong information to the public and I have questioned where is the present chairman. 
The Movement Control Order #MCO #PKP is just about two months and the Sarawak Central Region Hotel Association chairman, Johnny Wong had denied that about 100 budget hotels in Sarawak had closed down or were being wound up. According to him, he have not heard about any hotel closing down and even right now in Sibu, he have not heard of any hotel closing. 
This issue had arised after a national nespaper had recently reported that “over 100 hotels in Sarawak had closed down or are in the midst of being wound up since the movement control order (MCO) came into force on March 18. The news report had also quoted the former chairman as saying that most of them were forced to close down for good as they failed to get discounts on rental from their landlords.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Pihak Syarikat Petroliam Nasional Berhad #Petronas masih belum membuat sebarang pembayaran cukai jualan ke atas produk petroleum kepada Sarawak

Pihak Syarikat Petroliam Nasional Berhad #Petronas masih belum membuat sebarang pembayaran cukai jualan ke atas produk petroleum kepada kerajaan negeri #Sarawak, sebaliknya telah mengemukakan rayuan di Mahkamah Rayuan. Perkara ini telah disahkan oleh Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Perunding Perjanjian #Malaysia 1963 #Sarawak Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar kepada pemberita selepas mesyuarat jawatankuasa itu pada 10 Jun lalu. 

Sehubungan itu, Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia berkata sebuah jawatankuasa perunding sudah ditubuhkan untuk berunding dengan Petronas mengenai pembayaran cukai berkenaan. Mesyuarat turut bersetuju melantik lima ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri Sarawak dalam jawatankuasa rundingan tersebut termasuk saya, timbalan beliau iaitu Datuk Gerawat Gala, Datuk Idris Buang, Datuk Sebastian Ting dan YB See Chee How. Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia yang juga Speaker Dewan Undangan Negeri Sarawak turut menegaskan jika tiada keputusan dicapai melalui rundingan, kerajaan negeri Sarawak akan meneruskan kes sivilnya terhadap Petronas.  Sarawak tetap meneruskan usaha dalam menuntut cukai jualan petroleum bagi tahun 2018 berjumlah RM2.878 bilion dan pihak kerajaan negeri tidak akan melayan sebarang pemotongan atau pengurangan jumlah cukai berkenaan.

Kedudukan kita ke atas cukai petroleum adalah jelas dan kita telah menang di Mahkamah Tinggi, hakim berpihak kepada Sarawak mengikut Artikel 95(B) (C) di mana Sarawak boleh mengenakan cukai jualan, kuasa yang diberi kepada Sarawak oleh Inter-Government Committee pada 1963. Mahkamah Tinggi pada 13 Mac lalu membuat keputusan bahawa Sabah dan Sarawak mempunyai hak di bawah Perlembagaan Persekutuan untuk mengenakan cukai jualan ke atas produk petroleumnya. Semasa membuat keputusan itu, Hakim Azahahari Kamal Ramli menolak pemohonan Petronas untuk memfailkan semakan kehakiman bagi mengisytiharkan cukai jualan Sarawak tidak sah dan terbatal. Sarawak mengenakan cukai jualan lima peratus ke atas produk petroleum pada 1 Jan tahun lepas di bawah Ordinan Cukai Jualan 1998 negeri.

Sarawak's Malaysian Games #Sukma athletes to resume training

The Sarawak Government is now giving permission to its Malaysian Games #Sukma athletes to resume training although team or contact sports are still prohibited in the state for the general public due to Covid-19. Our Sukma athletes can now start training including those involved in group sports such as #football #swimming and #rugby . Even though team sports were still not permitted at the moment, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Sarawak #MYSS had decided to allow Sukma athletes to start training to ensure that they will be ready for the games which was postponed from July 2020 to March 2021 in Johor.
I have informed our #Media friends that for #swimming the State Sports Corporation #SSC will only allow our athletes can use the aquatic centre for training even though it is still closed to the public.
This is for our preparation for Sukma and I am monitoring this sport. In the next week or two, I will be meeting with all coaches, associations and sports development officers to get the latest updates on their preparation and ahletes' training. But I have also stressed that the locals that they are still not allowed to engage in team sports as instructed by the Federal government.
I have given instructions that the use of stadiums, sports centres where team sports can be organised are not allowed. We are still following the directive from the federal government and recently the State Disaster Management Committee #SDMC chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah had told a press conference on June 10 that that the committee would decide on June 17 on the reopening of more sectors and activities, including sports, under the Recovery Movement Control Order #RMCO #PKPP which came into effect today.

Boosting domestic tourism to revitalise Sarawak's economy

We will be boosting our domestic tourism that will be one of the strategies to revitalise Sarawak's economy that is badly hit by the #Covid19 pandemic. To achieve this, the Sarawak Government through Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture #MTACS will continue boost the confidence of tourists to come and visit Sarawak. We will start this first and also with our neighbouring countries such as Brunei and Singapore. We understand that people, whether in Sarawak, Peninsular Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, are worried when it comes to travel these days.

We wll also try to build their confidence so that they are willing to come here and be rest assured that Sarawak is safe for them to visit. I am optimistic that the state’s tourism sector will go back to normal in the next three to four months. On the issue of costly airfares between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, we would like to urge the Federal Government to look into the matter so that the rates are reasonable and to go back to normal. At the moment, a one-way air ticket from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur may costs as high as RM2,000 and this has resulted in a lot of inconvenience for people in Sarawak, Peninsular Malaysia as well as Sabah. 
This is due to the restrictions of passengers on board the plane in view of social distancing. That is why airline companies had to increase their airfares to avoid suffering from losses. But now that there is no more restriction on passenger capacity, therefore we hope that the ticket prices will go down. On June 10 the Sarawak government has decided and approved full flight capacity between Peninsular Malaysia to Sarawak and vice versa with immediate  effect in which the previous flight capacity allowed by the state was only 66.6 per cent.