KOTA KINABALU: Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun fully supports the proposal made by Chief Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak, Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum to set up a special court for tourists in Sabah.
Masidi, when asked to comment on the matter, said setting up a tourist court will enhance Sabah’s marketability as a tourist-friendly destination.
“Good tourism products are not the only selling points of a country. It also includes safety and very reliable and efficient legal system, readily and speedily available to foreigners at very reasonable cost.
“Having said that however, I hope the same quick legal recourse will also be available to local tourist handlers if they too feel that they have been taken for a ride by any tourist,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vice President Inbound of Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Datuk KL Tan said the setting up of a tourist court would be good for tourists who have been cheated by unlicensed or illegal travel agents.
He said this is the norm with these agents having given substandard services and cases where accidents happen.
“For licensed tour operators, the special court may not go well where there are cases of bogus claims by tourists. In fact there are also guides like 101 ways to complain and get a free trip.
“This will put licensed tour operators at a disadvantage. Licensed operators have professional indemnity insurance and would prefer the normal due process.
“Having said that, a special tourist court may enhance Sabah as a tourist destination with a clean and transparent image and protect tourist well being. A special tourist court will be good to handle cases whereby tourists are cheated, mishandled, short changed whereby there is no avenue for them for quick recourse,” he added.
He concluded that a special tourist court would be good for cleaning up the industry but should not put legitimate and genuine operators at a disadvantage.
Malanjum, in his recent speech at the opening of Legal Year 2015 at the Kota Kinabalu Courthouse, said tourism was one of the main sources of revenue for Sabah and Sarawak.
Last year alone, he said 34 tourists have been charged in Sarawak and four in Sabah’s Magistrate’s courts for various criminal charges.
However, he said that there were no civil claims filed by any tourists, hence it was time that the legal fraternity in Sabah and Sarawak made the move in order to create awareness among tourists.
“A lot of tourists get into accidents, but they go off without making any claims as they are afraid of delays,” he said, adding that a tourist court should be set up so that during their short stay in the state, there would be no reason for them not to take legal actions if necessary, in Sabah’s courts.
During his speech, Malanjum also said that the judiciary had continued its commitment to make the justice system in Malaysia more transparent and accessible for all.