Sarawak minister calls for review of ‘unconstitutional’ laws

Sarawak’s tourism minister, Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

KUCHING: A Sarawak minister has urged the federal government to review “unconstitutional” changes to laws that were against the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Sarawak tourism minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the Sabah and Sarawak governments were not consulted when tourism was placed in the federal list in 1994.

“This is another right that belonged to Sabah and Sarawak, which had been “taken away” by the federal government,” he said.

MA63 activist Zainnal Ajamain questioning the legality of the federal tourism, arts and culture ministry in regulating tourism in Sabah and Sarawak. He said tourism was in neither the federal nor state list of responsibilities in the Federal Constitution.

As it was a residual power, tourism should be under the state’s purview, he said.

Karim claimed that in 1994, the Federal Constitution was “discreetly” amended without much debate and tourism suddenly became a federal matter.

“I have raised this matter before in 2017 when objecting to the imposition of tourism tax and sharing of the proceeds with Sabah and Sarawak in 2017. It led to an outburst from the tourism and culture minister then, Nazri Aziz, who resorted to calling me a gangster and a greenhorn in ministerial duties.”

Karim told FMT: “He was probably upset because I had spilled the beans about the federal government acting unconstitutionally when they inserted tourism in the federal list.”

Karim said tourism was only beginning to thrive in South East Asia in 1994.

“Lots of tourism infrastructure needed to be upgraded. I think the federal government and those manning it did not want Sabah and Sarawak to get a slice of the cake,” he said.