Snowdan says ‘uncultured’ Nazri should give up culture portfolio

Tourism Crisis, State Backs Datuk Abdul Karim

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KUCHING: Sarawak’s Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports, Snowdan Lawan, today called for Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz to consider moving to another portfolio.

He does not fit in the current portfolio, the Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Youth chief said as Sarawakians had branded Nazri “rude”, “arrogant” and “uncultured” in his public criticism of Karim over the controversial tourism tax which comes into force on Aug 1.

Snowdan said Nazri’s public tirade and name calling of Karim were excuses “to cover his mistake in not consulting Sabah and Sarawak on the new tax policy”.

Karim had last week asked for a deferment in enforcement of the tax saying it was just another example of the federal government bulldozing their way on Sarawak and Sabah with scant regard on the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Nazri in a function in Kuala Lumpur yesterday dismissed Karim as a ‘setahun jagung’ (literally Malay for young corn but meant as a political green horn).

He was referring to Karim’s appointment only last month as the state’s Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister.

“He is a newly appointed minister, a BN minister, don’t have to show off,” he was quoted as telling reporters at a break of fast.

“You are still new. Don’t talk too much.”

He had also accused Karim of “talking big” and wants to behave like a “gangster”.

“Just appointed as a minister and you want to be a gangster.”

Nazri’s behavior was “very childish”, Lawan said, and it reflected “his true character”.

“He lacks self control and is very impulsive.”

Lawan, who warned Nazri not to pick a fight with Sarawak, said he could “later need the support of our (Sarawak) MPs”.

Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, a Sabah lawmaker, said the tourism tax is now a constitutional matter as tourism is under the purview of the state and local governments.

The Bingkor assemblyman said Putrajaya’s move to introduce a tourism tax may be “legal” but tourism falls under the ambit of residual power vested with the state government.

Kitingan, concurring with Karim’s argument, said tourism was never discussed in the formation of Malaysia, but it was added as a new item, 25A, to the federal list in the Ninth Schedule in 1994.

Both men said the inclusion may be unlawful although it may be passed in Parliament in 1994.

Kitingan said the federal government has no business to amend the federal constitution and usurp the residual power of the state on tourism.

Meanwhile, Sarawak BN Backbenchers Club also joined in the fray, by rallying their support for Abdul Karim.

Its Chairman, Paulus Gumbang said Nazri’s statement was not only uncalled for but also did not reflect someone worthy of calling himself a senior minister and certainly not in the spirit of the BN family

“Instead of belittling the State Minister wth personal attack, he should have instead explained the rational behind the Tourism Tax. As a so called Senior Minister, he should understand that as a State Minister, Datuk Karim was not merely expressing his personal opinion but was representative of opinion of the people in the State,” said Paulus in a statement. –