KUALA LUMPUR – June 12, 2017: Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz is getting a lot of flak from a lot of people for his remarks yesterday directed at Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah with regards to the July 1 implementation of the federal tourism tax.
Today, the Sarawak government announced the withdrawal of its representative from the Malaysian Tourism Board with immediate effect.
Immediately following this, Karim told reporters in Simunjan that the decision had nothing to do with the “on-going spat” between him and Nazri.
He was quoted to have said that the state government had already planned to withdraw its representative from the board for quite some time.
Sarawak, he said has its own entity, which is the Sarawak Tourism Board, to carry out promotions for our state.
The spat: Yesterday, Nazri hit out at Karim over the latter’s statement urging Putrajaya to defer the implementation of the federal tourism tax for Sabah and Sarawak said.
He said that Karim should have sought more information from him if there was anything that he did not understand instead of going public with his statement.
After all, he said, they both are Barisan Nasional ministers. Nazi had also advised Karim not to behave “like a gangster” .
His “gangster” remarks expectedly did not go down well with netizens not only from Sabah and Sarawak but also from the peninsular.
It looks like Malaysians from both sides are standing in solidarity in this.
Blogger Datuk Ahirudin Attan said unless Nazri says sorry, he did not see how Sarawak would go along with the proposed measure.
“And then we can all imagine how the Sabahans will react.
“Out of the window the Federal government’s RM654.62 million tax shall go, I reckon,” he posted in his blog Rocky’s Bru.
Ahirudin said Nazri’s tourism tax may well be good for the industry, especially for Sarawak and Sabah, as claimed.
“So all the Tourism Minister needed to do was to convince the industry and the people that it is so.
“But Nazri, as we all know, can be so incapable of the easiest of tasks. His belligerent response to the Sarawak Tourism Minister’s request to defer the July 1 implementation of the tax is the latest example of this serious handicap.
“And it’s going to haunt him, the Tourism Board, and last but not least, his boss the Prime Minister.
Because the Sarawakians, sweet and friendly as they are, can be belligerent if you disrespect them. In fact, anyone would.”
Ahirudin said in the end, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak would have to step in, once again.
Minister in the PM”s Department Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan made three tweets after the Sarawak Government’s decision.
He tweeted: “Datuk Karim maybe new as state minister but he is undoubtedly a very seasoned Sarawak politician with many years as elected YB.”
Also this: “The tourism tax can be justified and explained. But the subsequent spat between Sbh&Swk leaders and MOTAC is making the effort harder.’
And this : “Federal ministers can certainly be more accommodative when dealing with genuine questions & concerns from Sabah & Sarawak leaders.”
Netizens from Sarawak were naturally incensed but were restrained in their postings. They took exception to Nazri’s “gangster” remark, pointing out that well, looks like Nazri was the one behaving so.
One Alex Stmrock Wong said Nazri was rude, uncouth, arrogant and unbecoming of a Minister and pointed out that Karim is known by Sarawakians as a humble, soft-spoken and caring state representative.
Karim, he said, had made the request for the deferment in a polite and civil manner, “in direct contrast to you”.
Elsewhere in social media, the Iban call of “Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban” (direct transition: still alive, still fight) resonates even on the walls of netizens from the peninsular.
A facebooker, Hamizan Hamzah from Kuala Lumpur, announced that for today’s Buka Puasa, he will be having Kuih Lapis Sarawak, Mee Kolok and Laksa Sarawak.