KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warsian Sabah has urged the Sabah and Sarawak governments to stick to their guns in opposing the tourism tax.
It wants all parties to stand behind the two state governments in this matter.
Earlier, Sabah Minister for Tourism, Culture and Environment Masidi Manjun said the Sabah government objected to the proposal for the tourism tax last year, as did the Sarawak government.
He said both state governments agreed to a common stand on the matter, but despite this, the federal government proceeded with the enactment of the Tourism Tax Act 2017.
Masidi added that there had been little or no consultations with the state governments prior to the enactment of the law on the tax, and that the Sabah Cabinet would discuss and decide on its stand on the tourism tax at its next meeting.
Speaking to FMT, Warisan vice-president Junz Wong said he was encouraged by Masidi’s statement, which clearly showed that Sabah and Sarawak had always been against the tax.
“Don’t waiver from your stand for the sake of Sabahans and Sarawakians. Stand firm, Warisan will stand with you in this matter,” he said, on the tourism tax which has seen Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz clash with several BN leaders.
In fact, Wong said, now was not the time to play politics and urged all opposition parties, whether state-based or national-based parties, to support the Sabah and Sarawak governments in fending off the tourism tax from East Malaysian shores.
“Where they (Sabah and Sarawak governments) are fighting for our rights we should support them, we shouldn’t attack them or discredit them by playing politics or saying its a charade.”
Recently, in a joint statement, the Sabah DAP and the Sarawak DAP had described Sarawak BN’s “bold” confrontation of Nazri Aziz as nothing more than a “well-designed and scripted wayang kulit (drama)” to drum up support for the BN in the coming Pujut by-election.
Wong added that perhaps the best thing to come out of the tourism tax was that Putrajaya’s bulldozing of it had “fired up” Sabahans and Sarawakians to protect rights enshrined under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“Before this issue, many people were unaware that tourism was a residual power and that residual powers belong to the states. It has renewed the spirit of Sabahans and Sarawakians who are now more interested than ever to learn about MA63 and fighting for their rights.”
Earlier today, in an FMT report, Zainnal Ajamain, a MA63 activist pointed out that Article 95 (d) of the Federal Constitution clearly stated the exclusion of Sabah and Sarawak from Parliament’s power to pass uniform laws on land or local government and that in Sabah and Sarawak, local government – under which hotels and lodging houses came – was a state matter and not a federal matter.
Wong said: “This is why I hope that all parties regardless of political beliefs, NGOs and civil movements will stay on track in defending our rights under MA63 by backing the Sabah and Sarawak governments in opposing the tax.
“Let Putrajaya hear the united voices of Sabahans and Sarawakians against this tax which infringes on the rights of our states.”
The tourism tax is fixed and charged on a per-room, per-night basis.
The tax is RM2.50 for non-rated hotels. RM5 for two-star, RM10 for three-star, RM15 for four-star and RM20 for five-star.
In winding up debate on the Tourism Tax Bill 2017 in the Dewan Rakyat on April 6, Nazri had said the tax would be able to bring in an income of about RM654.62 million if there was a 60% occupancy rate at the more than 11 million hotel rooms in the country.
He had said the tax would be used to improve tourism facilities and promote Malaysia overseas.
Aside from BN, Warisan and Pakatan Harapan, the other political force in the state is the United Sabah Alliance, a coalition comprising Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku, Sabah Progressive Party, Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah and Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah.