Monday, June 17

Wan Junaidi admits Sarawak members of parliament have to support government bills


KUCHING: In the spirit of collective responsibility practised in Commonwealth countries, Sarawakian parliamentarians who are cabinet members cannot object to the ruling coalition’s decision in the Parliament.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who is Santubong Member of Parliament, highlighted this to The Borneo Post yesterday.

“We Sarawakian MPs who are ministers cannot speak against the government’s bill (Tourism Tax Bill). This is what we call collective responsibility and it is practised in every Commonwealth country in the world.

“If you want to know why Sarawakian MPs did not voice out against the bill, you will have to ask MPs who do not have any ministerial posts,” he said.

The Santubong MP was responding to the question why Sarawakian MPs did not voice objection to the Tourism Tax Bill when it was introduced and read out in the Parliament.

The Tourism Tax Bill, which was passed in the last parliamentary sitting, once enforced means

5-star hotels have to pay RM20 tax per room occupied per night; RM10 for 4-star hotels; RM5 for one to 3-star hotels and RM2.50 for one to three orchid hotels as well as unrated hotels.

State Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah had objected to the implementation of the bill and asked that it be deferred until the state has been consulted.

He said the introduction of the bill is against the spirit of  the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

In response, federal Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz said Sarawak would stand to benefit from the collection of the new tax which would be equally shared among three regions – Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, with Peninsular Malaysia contributing more as it has more 5-star hotels.

Nazri said the state was consulted  as the bill was discussed in the federal cabinet and debated in Parliament attended by Sarawak MPs and federal ministers.

Nazri in response to Abdul Karim’s statement called him “a greenhorn minister” and “a gangster”, resulting in a row between the BN ministers and condemnation from Sarawakian politicians.

However, in the latest development, attention has shifted to Sarawakian MPs and senators, and the reasons they did not object or raise doubt when the bill was passed in Parliament and the Upper House.

Lubok Antu MP Datuk William Nyallau Badak when contacted said not all Sarawak and Sabah MPs supported the Tourism Tax Bill.

“We were briefed about the bill before that and some of Sarawakian MPs agreed to it because Nazri said it would benefit Sarawak as the tax collected will be divided into three portions for the three regions of Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia,” he said.

Nyallau, however, held the view that the federal government should have consulted and sought approval from Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg first before announcing its implementation which will make an impact on Sarawak’s tourism industry.