Published on: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Kota Kinabalu: Resort operators found employing undocumented workers in the State will have their business licence reviewed by the State Government.
Tourism, Environment and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said towards this end, all resort operators, particularly those along the State's coastal areas, are required to submit their list of workers for security vetting within one month from now.
Resorts and tour operators in the East Coast have to submit the list to the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom), while those not under the Esscom area need to hand it over to his Ministry, he said.
Masidi was entrusted by the Cabinet to make the announcement to reporters at Wisma Innoprise as the weekly Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman was still ongoing. "It is going to be a long Cabinet meeting, so I am entrusted by the Cabinet to talk to you (media)," he said.
According to him, the move was important to tighten up security in resorts located at high-risk areas.
Furthermore, there was a strong suspicion that the abduction of the Chinese woman and a Filipina worker at the Singamata Reef and Adventure Resort in Semporna last week was aided by people from the inside.
Masidi said the incident on April 2 happened after the security personnel at the resort went out for patrol and this suggested that somebody on the inside had tipped off the kidnappers on the right time to strike.
He said the requirement for resorts to provide their workers list was not meant to penalise the operators but to educate them to abide by the law and stop employing workers without proper documentation.
The list of workers provided by the resort operators would enable intelligence monitoring by the security agencies should crimes such as abduction and terrorism occur, he said.
On illegal resorts, Masidi said the operators would be given sufficient time to comply with all the requirements to make their business proper.
"If they failed to do so, then it is too bad, they have to close down," he said. There are easily between 20 and 25 resorts in Semporna, which is the gateway to the world famous Sipadan Island and Masidi said some of the chalets in Mabul Island, near Sipadan were being operated illegally.
In this respect, Masidi said the State Cabinet also wants strict vetting to be done on operators of the boats ferrying tourists to the islands.
On another note, Masidi said the State Government is taking over certain powers of Sabah Parks, especially in approving land leases for resorts operation, for security reasons. He said the State Cabinet is in the best position to evaluate the appropriateness of land leased by Sabah Parks.
He said a total reorganisation was needed on the matter to ensure "they make good decision and good utilisation of the Sabah Parks land, which is getting scarce." Pending the establishment of new regulation, Masidi said all new applications for land lease under Sabah Parks would be frozen.
Meanwhile, on the discovery of the dead turtles in Pulau Tiga off Kudat, Masidi said his Ministry was verifying reports received by them.
It was believed that the turtles were part of those being traded at international waters by poachers.