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No sign of the tourism money
Published on: Tuesday, March 26, 2019
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KUALA LUMPUR: Tawau MP Datuk Christina Liew (pic), while welcoming Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s earlier announcement that the Federal Government will distribute 50pc of last year’s tourism tax revenue to all State Governments, said the Sabah Government has yet to receive its share.

 “We (Sabah) have not received any payments for the third-quarter of 2017 (September-December) as well as for the period from January to December 2018.

 “We genuinely need the 50pc share for intensifying our tourism promotion efforts, refurbishing tourism facilities and building tourism infrastructure in the State,” she said when debating the motion of thanks on the royal address of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in the Dewan Rakyat, Monday.

 Liew, who is also Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment (State), said Sabah’s tourism industry recorded its highest receipts at RM8.342 billion in 2018, registering an increase by 5.3pc compared with RM7.83 billion in 2017.

 “Overall, international visitor arrivals recorded an increase of 10.2pc while domestic arrivals rose by 2.8pc. China formed the main market source with a total of 593,623 arrivals, followed by South Korea with 337,100. Singapore recorded a growth by 9.1pc the same year,” she said.

 She also drew attention to the fact that Tawau has huge potential for tourism development, coupled with Tawau Airport’s position as the second largest  in Sabah.

 “As we all know, Tawau is an important gateway to the world-renowned diving sites at Sipadan and Mabul in Semporna as well as the world famous Danum Valley which serves as a tourism centre and a tropical forests research centre. 

 “Tawau Airport is also the fourth highest in terms of passenger growth after KLIA, Kota Kinabalu and Penang.

“I fully support the statement of Minister of Transport (Anthony Loke) that infrastructure development, especially the proposed improvement of the Tawau Airport will not be a loss,” she said.

 Liew also touched on the acute need to increase the number of immigration officers on duty at Tawau Airport, especially for the arrival of scheduled flights from Kuala Lumpur and international destinations. 

 Saying that the population in Tawau now stands at 506,700, she said it has given rise to the need for more infrastructural facilities, including school infrastructure.

 On the education front, she highlighted the pressing need for additional classrooms for two primary schools in her parliamentary constituency - SK Andrassy and SK Ranggu  - in view of increasing housing estates in the area. “Six additional classrooms are required to accommodate the anticipated increase of students.”

 According to her, SK Tanjung Batu is in bad shape despite its location in the urban area. “This school which was built in the 1980s as a lightning project is no longer safe for occupation. The classrooms need to be replaced.” And one block of classrooms at SMK Wallace Bay was destroyed by fire in July 2018 but has yet to be rebuilt. “As a result, the teachers are forced to conduct classes in temporary sheds.

 Liew also emphasised the need for a new mammogram machine for the Tawau Hospital, given that more women are now coming forward to seek treatment.

 “Mammogram (Xray examination to detect breast cancer) is a basic health need. This tool is required for screening, diagnosis and surveillance (monitoring) of breast cancer. Presently, women get their mammogram done at the private medical centre in Tawau or go to Kota Kinabalu which is inconvenient and costly,” she said, adding breast cancer is the most common cancer among women.

 On the Federal Government’s commitment and agreement to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to make Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners of Peninsular Malaysia, Liew said it was a very positive move while expressing the hope that it would become a legacy of the Pakatan Harapan Government. 

 “It is also hoped that this step will put a stop to the never-ending debate on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (or MA63) as it (debate) is perceived as ‘duri dalam daging’ (or a thorn in the flesh). I am confident this good move and intention will strengthen the spirit and foundation of the formation of Malaysia. We must remember that MA63 is the cornerstone of the formation of Malaysia,” she said. 

 “What we are pursuing (equal partner status) is not in the interest of any quarters or individual but for the good, well-being and harmony of the Malaysian nation that is made up of diverse races and religions.”

 On the review for re-delineation of electoral boundaries in Sabah, Liew informed the Dewan Rakyat that the State Legislative Assembly had in August 2016 passed a motion to increase the number of State seats from 60 to 73.

“I would like to know what step will be taken by the Federal Government to respect the decision of the Sabah State Assembly,” she concluded.

 



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