Wednesday, December 8

Sarawak and Sabah govts mull taking over MASwings


KUCHING: Sabah and Sarawak governments are proposing to take over MASwings to improve air connectivity and enhance travel into the deep interior of the two states.

Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the matter had been conveyed to Khazanah Nasional Berhad as a major shareholder of MASWings.

“The state government through my ministry has registered its interest to take over MASwings together with the Sabah state government.

“A letter to express our wish has been submitted to Khazanah Nasional Berhad as a major shareholder, where MASwings is its subsidiary. The proposal on the takeover is in view of the current restructuring exercise by Khazanah to our national carrier,” he said.

Abang Johari disclosed this when delivering his winding-up speech on the second last day of the current State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting yesterday.

“We have written to Khazanah on the matter but so far we have not received the final answer from them yet so we will pursue this matter until they say yes or no,” he said.

On a related issue, he informed the august house that the state government had submitted a request to the federal government to waive the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on all domestic flights.

He said the GST had caused concern as it had resulted in the increase in cost of air travel, which his ministry viewed as detrimental to the tourism sector as it will hamper the movement of people from Peninsular Malaysia to Sarawak and vice versa.

“For the above reason, domestic air fare should be zero-GST,” he stressed.

He asserted that in Sarawak travelling by air was not a luxury but a real necessity in view of its vast geographical size, sparse population and inaccessibility of interior areas by road.

“In Peninsular Malaysia, the road network is well developed and one can easily travel from one point to another on public transport with ease and comfort, yet it is not subjected to GST.

“For travellers to and from Peninsular Malaysia to Sarawak we have no other option but to fly,” he added.