PETALING JAYA: Nazri Aziz took aim at another minister today as the storm over his comments lashing out at a Sarawak minister for questioning the new tourism tax continued, culminating in the state’s decision today to opt out of Putrajaya’s tourism board.
The tourism and culture minister, who has come under attack from both Barisan Nasional (BN) and opposition politicians after he called Sarawak minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah a “rookie”, today launched a similar attack on his Cabinet colleague Abdul Rahman Dahlan.
Rahman, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who is also the MP for Kota Belud in Sabah, had earlier defended Karim.
“Datuk Karim may be new as state minister, but he is undoubtedly a very seasoned Sarawak politician with many years as elected YB,” Rahman said in a series of tweets in defence of Karim.
In his reaction, 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 told FMT.
“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.”
Rahman said the spat between Nazri and Karim was complicating the government’s efforts to explain the tourism tax.
“Federal ministers can certainly be more accommodative when dealing with genuine questions and concerns from Sabah and Sarawak leaders,” he said.
But 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, a remark that drew a strong reaction from Nazri.
“You (Karim) should not talk big in politics. If you want to show samseng (thuggery), we are bigger samseng,” Nazri said yesterday.
The comments drew condemnation from Sarawak politicians across the divide, with Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Youth chief Fadillah Yusof, who is also the federal works minister, telling off Nazri for insulting Karim.