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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sabah DAP rebukes state DCM over debate on tourism tax

Sandakan MP Stephen Wong criticises Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Raymond Tan for not understanding parliamentary proceedings and procedures.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah DAP chairman Stephen Wong has rebuked Sabah deputy chief minister Raymond Tan for claiming that Wong did not object to the controversial tourism tax when the bill was tabled in Parliament on April 6.
Tan, who is also Sabah minister of industrial development, was reported to have said the Hansard from Parliament showed that Wong did not say a single word to object during the debate on the Tourism Tax Bill in April.
Tan had added that Wong should not have lied to the people by asserting he had fought hard to stop the passing of the bill.
“Raymond Tan is an experienced politician, having risen in ranks from assistant minister to deputy minister in the Sabah cabinet and finally to deputy chief minister.
“He should have fully understood parliamentary proceedings and procedures. The reason I did not speak during the debate on the Tourism Tax Bill was because DAP had already appointed our representative who were to debate against the bill.
“Seremban MP Anthony Loke and (DAP secretary-general) Lim Guan Eng, were chosen to speak on our behalf against the imposition of the tourism tax. The proceedings during the debate were fixed. Not everyone can jump and speak up during a debate,” Wong told FMT, adding that Tan should know this.
Wong, who is also Sandakan MP, said he had raised his disagreement personally to federal tourism and culture minister Nazri Aziz even before the bill was tabled and cited situations in his constituency that warranted holding off the tourism tax.
“I objected to Nazri verbally and personally during one of the sessions in Parliament last year, and this was well before the bill was even tabled.
“I told Nazri that it was not the right time to impose the tourism tax. We have opposed the tourism tax since day one.
“The hotel occupancy rate in Sandakan stands at slightly above 20% only. This shows that it’s not the right time to impose the tourism tax. These are facts-and-figures from Sandakan that nobody, including Raymond Tan, can counter,” Wong said.
The tourism tax was initially scheduled to be enforced on July 1 but received much protest from Sabah and Sarawak which asked for its deferment.
Hotel guests will be charged between RM2.50 and RM20 for overnight stays depending on the type of hotel under the plan but it was reported that locals staying at three-star hotels and below will be exempted from the tax. -FMT

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