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Sabah wants power to issue tourism licences

Sabah wants power to issue tourism licences

Christina (standing middle, back row) together with the award recipients and other invited guests at the Sabah Tourism Awards 2019.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s request to take over the power to issue tourism-related licences from the Federal Government could not be materialised yet as the Malaysian Agreement 1963 (MA63) deal is still under ‘negotiation’.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said that Sabah had been facing issues in regards to the issuance of licences to operators from the state and the problem had been going on for some time now.

“The only solution I could see will be the devolution of power in issuing tourism-related licences from the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) to Sabah.

“Only when the Sabah Government is given the power of issuing tourism licences, then we could have the power to regulate and carry out enforcement of the law in relation to licence holders,” said Christina, who is also State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister.

Speaking at the Sabah Tourism Awards 2019 ceremony here on Saturday, Christina said that she had brought up the matter in Parliament earlier on October.

“As the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tawau, I had on October 22 this year asked for devolution of power from the Federal Government to enable Sabah to approve applications for tourism-related licensing and to issue licences.

“I raised this concern during the debate on the National Budget 2020 in the Dewan Rakyat,” she disclosed.

In her debate, she had urged the Federal Government to empower Sabah to approve and issue five types of tourism licensing, namely the entry and exit licence for tourism agents; licence for tourist guides; licence for tourism vehicles (example, excursion buses); ticket licensing; and licence to manage tourism training schools or institutions.

She reckoned that if MOTAC were to grant licensing autonomy to Sabah, the move would boost tourism and enhance the efficiency of the industry’s service delivery system.

Unfortunately, she said that the request had to be put on hold.

“On November 5, I received a written reply from MOTAC on the matter. It reads like this … My ministry has taken note of the request made by the Member of Parliament for Tawau. However, the devolution of power to the State is yet to be implemented, considering that matters in connection with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) are still under negotiation.”

“In short, my request for devolution of power in this respect has been put on hold subject to the finalisation of devolution of power based on the MA63 which is still under negotiation. I keep my fingers crossed and hope it bears fruit,” said Christina.

In this regard, she called on MOTAC to review seriously Sabah’s request and for it to work with her ministry – for the sustainability of the tourism industry in Sabah.

Earlier in April, Sabah and Sarawak’s dreams of getting back the status equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia seemed to be achievable after the Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution was tabled in Parliament.

However, the Bill was rejected after it failed to reach the required two-thirds majority.

Awards were presented to 33 categories during the event.

Christina presented to the winner for Special Minister Awards won by Guangzhou World International Travel Co; Tham Yau Kong; Albert Teo and Clement Lee.

The other awards including the Best Partner Airlines under the Malaysian Based Category won by AirAsia; China Southern Airlines and Easter Jet won the Best Partner under the Foreign based category.

Meanwhile, Best Tour Operator Inboud (Malaysia/Sabah) award was won by Pelancongan Taikar Worldmart Sdn Bhd; Best Overseas Tour Operator-China category, won by Guangdong China Women International Travel Services Co.Ltd.

Taiwan category won by Fantast Travel Service Co.Ltd; Hongkong category won by Hong Kong Wing On Travel Service Limited; Korea category won by Hanatour Service Inc; Singapore category won by Amazing Borneo Travel Event Pte Ltd and United Kingdom Ireland category won by Natural Travel Collection Ltd (Wildlife Worldwide).

Among those present in the event were Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assafal P. Alian; Mayor Datuk Nordin Siman; Consul-General of the Republic of Indonesia in Kota Kinabalu, Bapak Krishna Djelani; and Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in Kota Kinabalu, Liang Caide.