Federal govt should consider S’wak’s contribution to national coffer when allocating tourism funding, says minister

Abdul Karim (seated, second left) fielding questions from the media in the DUN Complex media room on May 23, 2023.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 23: The federal government needs to be fair in allocating funds for tourism development by taking into consideration not only the number of tourism facilities spread across Sarawak but also the region’s contribution to the national coffer and economy. 

Highlighting this, Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah pointed out that if Melaka, as a smaller state can be given a few hundred million ringgit for tourism development, it would be unfair for Sarawak to be allocated only RM18.5 million. 

“We hope to see the fair distribution of ‘wealth’ because Sarawak has got more facilities that need to be upgraded. 

“Be fair on that part. I think there is a need to also consider the contributions from each state. How much does Sarawak contribute to the national economy and coffer? From there, allocate us a fair share for every aspect for facilities and tourism,” he told a press conference at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex media room here today. 

Earlier in his ministerial winding-up speech, Abdul Karim has highlighted the large difference in the respective tourism product development allocations from the Sarawak and federal governments

Abdul Karim disclosed that the federal Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) only allocated RM18.523 million as compared to RM360.265 million allocated by the Sarawak government under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) and RM133.25 million under the People’s Project initiative.

He called on Motac Minister Dato Sri Tiong King Sing and Deputy Prime Minister Dato Sri Fadillah Yusof to fight for more allocations for Sarawak. 

Even though Sarawak has been shortchanged for many years, Abdul Karim said, the region does not want to voice its displeasure all the time “as work will not get done just by complaining”. 

“Sarawak has kept itself going and that’s why we are moving on our own in many initiatives, notably with Sarawak having our very own pavilion for the first time at the most important international tourism trade shows in the world, namely ITB Berlin and IMEX Frankfurt,” he said. 

Abdul Karim acknowleged that Sarawak cannot become over-reliant on Motac which needs to take care of the needs of 14 states and regions in Malaysia. 

“We are not really complaining much, (but) we just move on. I believe the results will come in when we take the aggressive approach. When we see the number of tourists coming in, our efforts will be acknowledged that way,” he added. — DayakDaily