Sarawak has only itself to blame for tourism tax

Chan Kok Leong

POLITICS thrives on bogeymen. And there’s no better bogeyman if you’re a politician in Sarawak than a wicked federal government forcing its laws on you without consultation.

This theme is repeated and made a success in movies as old as the Star Wars franchise and as recent as the Hunger Games.

When it was first announced that the tourism tax would be implemented on July 1, Sabah and Sarawak politicians quickly rolled out the bogeyman argument.

That the tourism tax was being forced on them. That tourism was not in the Malaysia Agreement in 1963. And that tourism is not in the federal List (a fake assertion).

But what they failed to point out is that the Tourism Tax Bill was introduced on April 4 and passed in the Dewan Rakyat a day later. Dewan Negara duly passed it, too, on April 27.

In the Dewan Rakyat, Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz read out the bill for its second and third readings at 1.39am on April 5 before it was passed at 4.57am.

Throughout the four-hour debate, save for Darell Leiking (Warisan-Penampang), none of the MPs from Sarawak or Sabah debated the bill, less oppose it.

In the Dewan Negara, the bill took less than an hour to be approved. And during that short time, only Senator Dr Zaiedi Suhaili (Sarawak) sought to delay it, asking whether Sarawak could get an exemption.

But he, too, did not contest Nazri’s explanation that tourism and taxes are under the federal purview in the federal constitution. And the bill was duly passed.

As Sarawakians fume over Nazri’s remark that Sarawak tourism minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah is a “political greenhorn”, accusing him of arrogance.

Or that the federal government has once again forced unfair taxes on them.

Perhaps it’s worth asking where were Sarawak’s 25 MPs that night when the bill was passed in the Dewan Rakyat?

Sarawak’s problem is not the federal government. Sarawak’s problem is it has representatives who represent Putrajaya. Not Sarawak. – June 12, 2017.

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  • Sarawak is a big part of Federal Government, they have 7 ministers in cabinet, this tax bill couldn't be passed in cabinet if they opposed, why they are opposing now ? Dato Nazri is right, they are all either Samseng or sleeping during cabinet meeting.

    Posted 7 years ago by Yiam botak · Reply