Sarawak’s tourism amendment push for greater autonomy waits on Sabah’s decision following change of stand

Ting (left) responding to questions raised by Lo during the Q&A session in the DUS sitting on May 9, 2024.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 9: The Sarawak government is actively pursuing an amendment to include ‘tourism’ in the Concurrent List (List III) of the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution to grant greater authority to Sarawak in legislating for tourism in the region, including the collection of tourism tax.

While the proposal has been presented to the federal government with ongoing negotiations under Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) Implementation Action Council, Deputy Minister of Tourism Datuk Sebastian Ting however said this matter is pending the Sabah government’s decision following their change of stand.


“Both Sarawak and Sabah have reiterated the same stand to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC). However, the Sabah government changed their stand, proposing for Item 25A to be taken out from the list and remain as a residual matter.

“A further discussion between the Attorney-General’s Chambers of Sarawak and Sabah’s Attorney-General Chambers on Oct 13, 2023 has been initiated to finalise the stand.

“To date, we are waiting for the Sabah government to finalise their stand before this matter can be brought up to MOTAC and subsequently to the MA63 Technical Committee which will be chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister (Dato Sri Fadillah Yusof) for further action,” he told the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUS) during a question-and-answer session here today.

He was responding to Batu Kitang assemblyman Dato Lo Khere Chiang’s query on the government’s action in reinstating Sarawak’s autonomous rights over tourism.

Recognising the importance of regulating its own laws pertaining to tourism in Sarawak, the Sarawak government has proposed to amend Item 25A (Tourism) from List I (Federal List) to List III (Concurrent List) of the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

Ting emphasised that the Sarawak government remains committed in pursuing and safeguarding the special rights and position of Sarawak as agreed under MA63 and the constitutional instruments annexed thereto as well as to the aspirations of Sarawakians and its people for greater autonomy.

If the proposed amendment is approved, he said Sarawak will be able to facilitate its own tourism development and would have the flexibility to adapt tourism matters into local law.

Apart from collection of tourism tax, other matters include promoting investment in tourism businesses; developing tourism human resources; improving Sarawak’s management of the tourism sector by generating a favorable environment for tourism businesses; product development on the infrastructure as well as maintenance; facilitating community-based tourism, locality-based tourism and cross-border tourism such as medical tourism; issuing the licensing for tourist guides, Sarawak-Malaysia My Second Home (SMM2H), homestay registration and training tourism institution as well as tourism vehicle; and implementation of tourism enforcement. — DayakDaily