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Rahman, Anifah join in
Published on: Tuesday, June 13, 2017
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Kota Kinabalu: Differences over the timing and conduct of Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz in handling reservations towards the Tourism Tax Bill spilled into the open, Monday with Sarawak pulling out of the Malaysian Tourism Board and two Sabahan Federal Ministers joining in the fray.Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan said Federal Ministers should be more accommodating when dealing with genuine questions and concerns about the tourism tax from Sabahan and Sarawakian leaders.

The Kota Belud MP was commenting on the spat between Nazri and Sarawak Minister in charge of Tourism Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah over the new tax.

"Karim may be new as state minister but is undoubtedly a very seasoned Sarawak politician with many years as elected YB," tweeted Abdul Rahman.

He said the tourism tax can be justified and explained, but the feud between leaders from Sabah and Sarawak, and the Tourism and Culture Ministry makes the effort harder.

Rahman said the spat between Nazri and Karim was complicating the government's efforts to explain the tax.

Nazri had earlier chided Abdul Karim labelling him a greenhorn (setahun jagung) and advising him not to behave "like a gangster" when he (Abdul Karim) urged Putrajaya to defer the July 1 implementation of the tourism tax in Sabah and Sarawak.

Abdul Karim added that the Federal Government must respect the Malaysia Agreement 1963 as tourism was only federalised recently.

Sarawak withdrew its representative from the Malaysian Tourism Board, saying that its representation was unnecessary as it duplicated the functions of the Sarawak Tourism Promotion Board.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman urged Nazri to be more diplomatic over the issue.

He said that as friends in the Federal Cabinet, it was wise to discuss and talk about issues in a manner that accurately portrays the spirit of unity in Barisan Nasional.

"Referring to the issue and statements from Nazri to the Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Karim Abdul Rahman Hamzah, I think there can be better ways to go about this," he said.

"We should talk on such issues in such a way that does not hurt the feelings of the people in Sabah and Sarawak," Anifah said.

"Nazri is my friend and as a friend, I advise him to take the first step in solving this problem.

I am sure Nazri is able to accept this advice and criticism for the benefit of the party and the people," Anifah added.

He said the trust given to ministers by the people should always be taken into account first for the sake of the country.

However, Nazri launched a similar attack on Abdul Rahman for defending Karim.

Nazri said Rahman was also a "new and inexperienced" minister and should not interfere in his spat with Karim.

"He (Rahman) is a new minister. He held one post and was changed to another not long after.

So I think he better stay out and let me settle this with Karim," Nazri said.

"He should not try to advise a senior minister, and I don't need his help. And anyway, he is from East Malaysia, so he is not neutral."

To this, Rahman said: "In the cabinet, the term old or new is non-existent. There are times when even the PM's (prime minister) views can be objected to, what more an old male minister."

To which Nazri remarked:

"The term 'senior minister' is used often, but Rahman is certainly not one. Although he sometimes believes he is.

"Besides, he is not a Sarawakian. He is a federal minister who was also involved in the decision to introduce the tourism tax," he said.

Nazri said if Karim were a "seasoned politician", he should have first asked clarification on the new tourism tax "instead of immediately attacking the federal government and accusing it of being insensitive, when we have been discussing this (the tourism tax) for so long".

The new tourism tax will kick in on July 1, and could see hotels nationwide being forced to charge between RM2.50 and RM20 per night.

Karim had said the move was an example of the federal government imposing tax laws in Sarawak without consultation.

"You (Karim) should not talk big in politics. If you want to show samseng (thuggery), we are bigger samseng," Nazri said told Karim.


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