Coronavirus: Sarawak tourism minister mulls cancelling China trip

Abdul Karim (front row, left) together with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and other senior Cabinet ministers visiting Dr Sim’s residence on the second day of Chinese New Year.

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Jan 26: The state Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah is considering postponing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing ceremony in Hainan.

This came in light of the Novel coronavirus outbreak, also known as the Wuhan coronavirus, which has claimed many victims with reported cases in several countries.

Four people in Malaysia were confirmed to have caught the virus, which originated in the Chinese provincial capital city of Wuhan.

“I am looking into the matter, whether to defer the MoU or not. This is due to the Wuhan virus, which is a very serious outbreak and has killed many people,” Karim told reporters at the Chinese New Year Open House of Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian here today.

Abdul Karim speaking to reporters.

Abdul Karim said the state tourism delegation together with ATS Global Travel and Charter (ATS) were scheduled to depart to Hainan for the MoU with Hainan Airlines, as part of its ongoing efforts to develop Sarawak’s tourism sector and improve air connectivity.

The MoU will see the airline running scheduled flights between Haikou and Kuching, with its inaugural direct flight scheduled in first quarter this year.

“The proposal was to operate two to three flights per week using B737-800 aircraft, with 164 economy seats including eight business class seats,” he continued.

On Dec 20 last year, the first MoU between STB, ATS and Hainan Airlines were signed in Kuching.

Abdul Karim said the state is making numerous attempts to get connected to North Asia and with the signing of the MoU with Hainan Airlines, it would give Sarawak another chance to prove that the state can realise its ambition to get connected to the North Asian region. — DayakDaily