Limbang MP: Is departure levy strictly for air travellers only?

Hasbi Habibollah. Photo sourced from http://www.parlimen.gov.my

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, April 9: Limbang MP Hasbi Habibollah has sought clarification on whether the Departure Levy Bill 2019 involves air travellers only.

He said he would agree with the Bill if the levy was only imposed on air travellers and not otherwise.

“However, it is said in the document (Bill) that it involves all types of vehicles. I seek clarification and urge the government to relook into the details,” said Hasbi in his debate in Parliament today after the second reading of the Bill.

He brought up the unique case of Lawas, which is cut off from the rest of Sarawak by Brunei, where Brunei is a country situated inside another country.

He said it was very common for people in Limbang and Lawas to travel between the two divisions to attend functions, whether sad or happy ones, and for them to do that, it was inevitable to pass through Brunei.

Then, there are also those living in Limbang and Lawas going to Brunei to work on a daily basis. Hence, such a new policy would mean a high cost for Sarawakians working in Brunei.

Furthermore, as Lawas lacks proper medical facilities and expertise, patients are often sent either to Sabah or Miri for treatment.

“And for patients from Lawas to go to Miri, they will have to pass Brunei,” he said, adding that it was also very common for hearses to travel between Lawas and Miri, meaning in and out of Brunei.

From the Brunei side, he said, it was common for Bruneian tourists either going to Sabah or Sarawak for shopping.

He said implementation of the Departure Levy would impact Bruneian tourists coming into Sarawak, where those who have been selling their products to Bruneian tourists might suffer.

“It (the Bill) will affect those in Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei. The people will be very unhappy as every time a crossing is made, they will have to pay the levy.

“I urge the government to relook at the issue from tourism, social, economic and convenience aspects,” said Hasbi.

In the meantime, to get to Lawas from Limbang or vice versa, Sarawakians must pass through Brunei. He, thus, urged that before a road is built to bypass Brunei, the government will delay implementation of the policy in Sarawak.

“Postpone it until four or five years later for Sarawak. Implement it only after the completion of the road that bypasses Brunei,” he appealed.

The Departure Levy Bill 2019 allows the government to impose a departure levy on all travels out of Malaysia. The proposed fee is RM20 for those departing for Asean countries, while it is RM40 for other countries.

The Departure Levy is on top of the RM73 passenger service charge (PSC). — DayakDaily