KUCHING: State DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen called on the six BN Sarawak federal ministers sitting in the Federal Cabinet to apologise to the people of Sarawak for approving the Tourism Tax Bill tabled in Parliament.
“As argued by the BN Sarawak that the imposition of the Tourism Tax is an erosion of the state’s autonomy, the one-million dollar question that all Sarawakians want to ask is, why, in the first place, did the BN Sarawak federal ministers approve the Tourism Tax in the Cabinet?” Chong pointed out during a press conference here Tuesday.
Chong noted that without the approval of the six Sarawak federal ministers in the Cabinet, the Tourism Tax Bill would never have been tabled in Parliament.
He added that once the Bill is tabled in Parliament, it will 100 per cent be approved because of the sheer number of BN MPs in Parliament.
Therefore, he said the six BN Sarawak federal ministers, namely Dato Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem, Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun, must apologise to the people of Sarawak for approving the imposition of such tax on Sarawak.
As for the opposition MPs, Chong said there was no whip directive given for this Tourism Tax Bill but they had reached a consensus that this is an additional tax for the people and it should not be imposed, especially during the economic downturn.
“The opposition MPs objected to the Tourism Tax Bill not only for the interest of Sarawak but for the interest of the whole tourism industry. It is an additional cost to the tourism industry. We also go to Peninsular Malaysia either for business or leisure and if hotels there impose this tax, we have to pay for it. So it is across the board.”
In addition, Chong also urged Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah to stand firm and ensure that Sarawak hoteliers are not required to pay the Tourism Tax.
In view of the recent spat between Abdul Karim and Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz, Chong said it serves no purpose if, after Abdul Karim’s outburst, hoteliers are still subject to the said Tourism Tax.
“While all Sarawakians appreciate the firm stand of Abdul Karim against Nazri, it serves no purpose if Abdul Karim’s colleagues, the Sarawak BN representatives in the Federal Cabinet, continue to ‘sell out’ and ‘betray’ the interests of Sarawak.”
Chong also noted that the Tourism Tax Act is not the first law that the Sarawak BN ministers approved in recent years that eroded Sarawak’s rights.
“Examples of which can be seen in the following Acts namely Territorial Sea Act, 2012; Goods and Services Tax Act, 2014; National Security Council Act, 2016; PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s Hudud Bill Motion in 2017 and annual federal budgets up to year 2017 under which Sarawak was given unfair allocations.”
Chong said at the end of the day, after all the excitement created by the shouting match between Abdul Karim and Nazri and the talk of autonomy, Sarawak’s interests continued to be eroded with the approval of BN Sarawak in federal cabinet and Sarawakians continuing to be shortchanged.