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Immigration, MAB told to buck up
Published on: Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Deputy Chief Minister cum-State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew (pic) urged Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAB) and the Immigration Department to pull up their socks, saying inaction on their part will be damaging to the State's booming tourism industry that saw half a million visitors last year.

She was referring to the perennial complaint of dirty airport toilets and of tourists having to wait unnecessarily long in order to get clearance at the immigration counters.

"Malaysia Airports Berhad and the Immigration Department are not under me, but the tourists are complaining that Sabah tourism is not doing its job.

"If you know there will be a number of flights coming in, please add more Immigration officers on duty.

It is totally unacceptable and inefficient for people to have to queue for more than an hour.

"And as for MAB, make sure your toilets are clean and if your workers can't get the job done, replace them with those who can," she said.

She said she received a long complaint from a corporate player who came back from Korea arriving at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport at midnight. Another flight from China also arrived at about the same time.

"He felt feel ashamed over the poor cleanliness of the airport toilets and to see the long queue at the Immigration counter. He said the toilets were filthy and smelly and the lines at the Immigration counter were so long that he and other visitors had to wait in line for more than an hour," she said.

"Everyone was blaming the Tourism Ministry saying they are not doing their job when actually it has nothing to do with us.

"I am not going to start the culture of 'you blame us, we blame you' or 'it is not my job'.

Even though it is not my job, I am going to take it as if it is my job," she said.

"I will take pictures and videos and put them up in the newspapers if I see this happening again.

I would like this to be improved. If everybody could be like Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai it could be very good," she said, citing Yeo's quick action in getting the Tanjung Aru beach cleaned up despite the area not being under its jurisdiction.

Liew also assured that any matter or issue referred to her Ministry would be looked into seriously.

This includes allegations about the poor condition of the Lokawi Zoo with animals dying or in pitiful condition.

"We have received letters concerning allegations, but I have not heard anything from the Wildlife Director in charge of the zoo.

"I told him that I want to hear from him this week and I will personally pay a visit to the zoo to see for myself the condition there," she said.

She went on to say that the matter has to be looked into deeply as it is more than superficial.

"I understand that the State Government give a lot of allocation for the zoo… zoo is a very important tourism hotspot, it not only provide attraction for tourists but for locals visiting the zoo with families.

"I remember going there when it was first opened and it was so nice, it has been a long time since I went and they told me that now it is in a pathetic condition.

"I will have to go and see, they said the tiger is so thin and the elephants so thin, how can this happen?

"I would like to see for myself, I don't want to comment now until I hear from the Wildlife Department Director and see for myself," she said.

She also encouraged people to write to her on matters concerning the Ministry and assured that she will study the matter together with her officers in addition to making a trip to the ground personally.

"I will make sure any complaints I receive, I will go down to the ground to see for myself …to see what actually happened. I must look into both sides," she said. - Sherell Jeffrey

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