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Tourism MoUs To Be Terminated

Tourism memorandums of understanding with Opposition-ruled state governments will be terminated given the change in leadership, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

She said this was in line with the termination of Tourism Action Councils in the states which were previously chaired by Barisan Nasional’s state executive councillors in charge of tourism in each state.

“Normally, the council works together with the state executive council and local authorities.

“But now that the leadership in the state governments have changed, we have to terminate the MoUs and the councils,” she told a post-Cabinet press briefing on Thursday April 3, 2008.

Azalina said that a committee would instead be set up, with members appointed by the Federal Government similar to the format implemented in PAS-held Kelantan.

Readers of Malaysiakini said;

Kamen Lee: Azalina said it was a ‘technical’ matter when her ministry channels funds to a different committee and not the state Tourism Action Councils (TAC) like other BN-held states.

Technical? My foot! This is daylight robbery. We, as voters in Selangor, Penang, Perak, Kedah and Kelantan, are now being robbed of our much needed tourism money.

I am gutted. These are the things that BN likes to do that vindicated my choice in voting for the opposition during the recent election.

Zorgen: Irregardless of whatever explanation that was given, it is very obvious that this is discriminating against the people in the five states under the administration of Pakatan Rakyat. I suggest that the people in the five states controlled by Pakatan Rakyat should pay their income taxes to state government instead of going to federal.

By the way, Azalina and other BN (so-called) leaders must not understand anything about psychology. The more discrimination imposed on the PR states, the more the people will insist on supporting PR.

BN has never learned from their failure in Kelantan. Probably they (BN leaders) are too proud to learn from the rakyat. All these (and upcoming) discriminations already helped me to decide my vote in 13th GE. Let’s experience another round of tsunami in five years time.

Uncle Leow: If Azalina get away with this we should hold a referendum to determine that:

1. Citizens of the five states pay taxation only to their state government. The PR state government should find a law to allow us, the citizens in the PR states, to pay income tax and all federal tax directly to the state government. Only after deducting all needed expenses like for industrial development, sports, tourism and others will the balance go to the federal government for defense, transportation and other related matters.

2. Become independent and secede from Malaysia. PR states should become independent, running their own internal and foreign affairs. The PR state will maintain own foreign diplomatic corps, their own police and army. Just like the republic of Singapore and Brunei. In this way, the PR states can run their own administrative policies without conflicting BN’s. PR and BN can be friends again without causing harm to each other.

Peter Yew: Somehow her actions betray her and Azalina’s actions clearly show strong discrimination. Was she suggesting that the BN government does not trust federal funds in the hands of the PR state governments? I would venture to say that based on the corruption records of past BN state governments, the PR state governments will be able to stretch every federal ringgit more effectively.

In many countries, tourism is a state affair and tourism revenue are retained by the states. May I suggest to the PR governments to initiate their own state run tourism programmes and see how the BN government reacts.

Derek: We are all too diplomatic in our language on this issue. As far as I am concerned, Azalina is childish, immature, ignorant and vindictive if she thinks she can punish voters who voted for the PR by withholding the tourism funds. It’s the people who will suffer and that will translate into more votes for PR at the next elections.

The PM should give Azalina a public ticking off for pursuing such a shortsighted strategy. The fact he has not done so suggests he supports such vindictive discriminatory policies or maybe he is still sleeping on it. This is no way to win back the hearts and minds of the people and not just in the PR states. This kind of behavior just confirms the ignorance and arrogance of some BN Ministers.

Yow Lop Siaw: It looks like the BN has not learnt their lesson despite being badly thrashed in the GE2008. Such arrogance is unacceptable and will backlash on the BN sooner or later. The solution to this rather simple – vote BN out come the next election and make BN the opposition!

This is grossly unfair as these tourism funds are from the taxpayers and taxpayers are now being punished and denied any funding. Further more, the BN government is extremely shortsighted as any disadvantage suffered resulting from this action will hurt the country in the long run.

Tourism has contributed substantially to Malaysia’s income. Given the current political situation – which is not too encouraging to foreign investors – this may translate into lower contribution from the tourism sector, hurting our GDP even more.

Ooi Hong Leong: After reading the report, I took a look at my income tax form. It says ‘Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri Malaysia’ (Internal Revenue Board of Malaysia). It does not read ‘Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri Barisan Nasional’ (Internal Revenue Board of the National Front).

So I’m paying my taxes to the Malaysian government and not to the Barisan Nasional. So how come Azalina Othman treats federal funds like Barisan Nasional funds? Such acts will turn people even more against the Barisan Nasional because they are so obviously unfair. It might even inspire the electorate to kick the Barisan Nasional out of the Federal Government the next time, since how else can they ensure that they gain access to federal funds (get the benefit of their tax money)?

Ridiculous: Double talk. That is all Azalina managed to do in trying to explain her unfair and unprofessional conduct as a minister of the present government. We pay taxes to the federal government and funds for tourism are designated from our tax money and so why discriminate based on whether the state is ruled by a different political party from the federal government? Should we then stop paying taxes to the federal government since we no longer get the funding as we stay in states that have voted opposition?

Kelvin: Again and again, the BN shows their incapability to be impartial. They refuse to respect the wishes of the rakyat. They forget that it is the rakyat that gives them their position and power. Continue acting like this and I won’t be surprised, come the next election, people like Azalina will be booted out. Do not rule this country like you are managing your home or business. Remember the rakyat are watching you very closely and we know what to do when the time comes.

Another thing about Azalina is I don’t know how a person like could be a minister. I don’t see the merit at all. It seems to me like she is a weak leader with no perception and direction. I just don’t see her contribution to the country at all. Shame on her. Let’s just monitor her performance.

Truly Malaysian: It looks like you did it again Azalina. You were promoted from one portfolio to another even after in your previous ministry the car jacks and stationery cost more than the market value and now you are doing away with funds coming into the five states.

Well, I don’t blame you. I blame your boss for recruiting you and even promoting you to a bigger ministry. How ironic as it speaks volume of the present BN leadership.

Netty E Komattu: I think Azalina and BN are out of their minds to even make a statement on the tourism issue. I have to strongly agree that Azalina is thinking from her heart and not using her head before lamenting on such issues. What is our dear PM doing about this and where are the voice of the other BN ministers who wanted to see ‘change’?

Are they also suggesting that they agree with Azalina on this matter? Azalina should get the political whip for making such statement as she is digging her own grave by discouraging tourists to visit Malaysia.

Unless Azalina wants to go back to school to study geography about Malaysia and all her states, she should apologise in public and be taken off from her portfolio as a Tourism Minister. This is a clear indication that BN is not keen on the rakyat and only keen of self-interest. Maybe the next time we decide to vote in the next GE, vote for ‘complete change’ from BN to PR. At least the PR government thinks before they talk and I appreciate that as a rakyat.

Pete: I would like to ask Azalina if I can choose not to pay my taxes to the government since I am not a supporter of the present Umno goverment of Malaysia led by Abdullah? I hope Azalina can enlighten the citizens of the five states in the opposition camp if they choose not pay our taxes this year.

Like everyone else in this country run by PM Abdullah, she is talking through her nose. I am so sorry about the language but I am truly upset with this issue. Once again this useless goverment led by PM Abdullah has shown the people how idiotic the people he has chosen to be ministers are. Leaders whom I doubt possess even a PMR certificate.

The People’s Voice: As much as I would like to criticise Azalina for her actions and arrogance, it can only be said that’s how BN does things. To suppress and deprive the people of their rights. Besides, it is the only way BN cronies can continue to control and use the money.

If the funds were given to PR, they might be able to manage the money so well and put BN to shame. However, I urge all BN ministers in the federal government to continue with your discrimination. It would only make the rakyat more aware of BN’s failures. PR only stands to win as time goes by.

Selangor Resident: Well, now BN lost only five states and continues to be arrogant. At the next GE, they will lose eight states. Congratulations, Azalina! It is the arrogance of people like you who caused BN’s losses.

And please do remember it is not just the young who are watching people like you but also people in my age group between 50 – 70 all who voted for the opposition not because we love the opposition but to teach BN a lesson as it is made up of arrogant people like you.

Joseph KK Tan: Since there is more discrimination from the BN government, I strongly think that 80% of the income tax should be directed to the state governments and 20% to the federal government. This is a very fair approach for the people as well as for development.

David: Again we see how arrogant the BN ministers are. They never learn from their mistakes and keep repeating them over and over again. Dear minister, where is your direction for the national tourism industry? Tell us.We are smart enough to evaluate the correctness of your statement.

Remember this – you can fool some people most of the time, most people some of the time, but it is impossible to fool all the people all the time.

Michael Sun: Azalina’s pre-emptive strike against the PR-controlled states only shows her own immaturity as a statesman and reflects on her arrogance and ignorance. Azalina must realise that there are also BN supporters within the Pakatan Rakyat-controlled states. Most probably they are the Umno cronies with licences operating tour agencies. They would be affected when there is a slowdown in tourist arrivals. Why cut your nose to spite your face?

Her actions best personify her arrogance and abuse of ministerial power. Money in the national treasury – not Umno’s nor Azalina’s money. It is money collected from poor taxpayers like us irrespective of our political divide. PM Abdullah who claimed that he is the PM for all Malaysians, must now reprimand his minister for making this insane directive. Let’s see whether Abdullah can show us his ‘leadership’.

Transparent Malaysian: Is she just the minister of tourism for the BN states or the minister of tourism for Malaysia? Does she know the difference between serving the people of Malaysia and serving her emotional side?

With people like this in a CEO position, can Malaysia grow in tourism again? She should be discussing with each and every MB and drawing out a map of action for tourism promotion for the whole of Malaysia rather than behaving like a child.

Kew Thean Yean: Azalina’s arrogance with regard for this issue makes me absolutely livid with anger. Her defence on television when queried about this, ‘It is because we know we cannot work with them (Pakatan Rakyat)’ is unprofessional, childish and arrogant in the extreme.

It is amazing that in this current political climate our elected ministers still respond in such a childish manner – almost akin to a child refusing to work on a school project with friends because they rejected her on the playground. Azalina needs to realise that such arrogance only erodes people’s respect for her ministry and BN in the long run. For goodness’ sake Umno leaders, put a stop to this nonsense.

Choy MH: If that is Azalina’s way of punishing voters, let her tell us where she would be standing in the next election. My whole family would like to register ourselves as voters there.

It is people like her that are bringing the PM down. Meanwhile, I suggest Pak Lah be given the title Bapa Demokrasi Malaysia. We should all appreciate the fact that the transition has been peaceful.

Golateott: Allot Federal Funds to ALL the states fairly and accordingly. Azalina should not try to make us believe that the Pakatan Rakyat state governments cannot perform as good or even better than BN state governments if they manage the fund for tourism by themselves. To try to manage for them is, to say the least, suspect.

Finally, Let’s walk the talk for once. Our PM asked Malaysians, irrespective of race and religion to unite. Then why this childish tit-for-tat, call it by any other name game is still being played?

Woman in Malaysia: First of all, channeling funds to a different committee for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) states and not the state Tourism Action Councils (TAC) like other BN-held states is already discriminatory. Why is there a need to distinguish between PR states and BN states? She mentioned that the reason was because it was a ‘technical matter’. What exactly does she mean by that? Is it because she is technically the ‘Umno Minister of Tourism’?

I am also disgusted that she said ‘But if they decide to join Barisan Natsonal, it would be much better’. How would it be much better? Is she not publicly admitting that if PR were to join BN, she would channel the funds directly to them? Azalina messed up big time as the former Youth and Sports Minister. With such a vindictive minister, I fear for the future of our tourism industry.

HL Too: The behaviour of Azalina merely epitomises the philosophy of the Malaysian government ie, the people’s money belong to politicians in power. That is also the reason why the BN politicians can flagrantly use (misuse) public money as though it belongs to them. I’m sick and tired of people saying that if you do not vote Barisan, you will not get government funding. I admire the people of Kelantan who always have had sufficient moral principles not to give in to BN blackmail.

No matter how the BN government deprived the Kelantanese of development funds, they continue to insist on not voting for this very corrupt government. Azalina merely reflects the BN philosophy regarding the people’s money.

Al Tugauw: Azalina in showing the vindictiveness of the BN, is equally showing her own foolishness. Does she expect her stand, which reflects federal government policy, to endear herself and the BN to the people including those who support BN?

After all these years, the BN seems to know nothing about constitutional government, yet it expects the people to pay federal taxes. Why should people of these five states pay taxes to the federal government if they or their legitimate representatives (the state governments) are going to be discriminated against?

Does Azalina think that federal government funds only belong to the BN? If Umno (and the BN) don’t reform, then obviously it is looking for a revolution against it. Looks like the BN has not learned anything from the last election.

Disgruntled Citizen: This Azalina is a young child that is still growing up. You can know straightaway the way she talks. She does not know what she is talking about and whether what she implies will affect our country’s tourism industry or not. She is too young and inexperienced to be put into such an important ministry of our country.

She doesn’t know the meaning of foreign exchange. Tourist spending in our country is the simplest way to increase our country’s reserves. Imagine how difficult it is to export our manufactured goods to other countries to earn their money.

Karen Lee: Can I suggest this? All citizens of PR states do not pay your 2007 income tax to the LHDN. Pakatan Rakyat state governments, please open an account under Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri Selangor (for Selangor),Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri Perak (for Perak) and etc respectively. All citizens of PR states then pay your 2007 taxes into these accounts. After all, if we don’t pay tax to LHDN for a year, we will get a fine only.

But if everyone of us staying in the PR states pay our taxes to the states government, then the PR government can use the money as a bargaining chip against the BN federal government. Show them how cooperative the rakyat are and what the rakyat’s wishes are.

BM: Rakyat, can you all see the real colour of another one from their team? She is talking through her nose! What an unprofessional reply from a person who is supposed to be a minister. It seems we got a bunch of them over there, huh? Thank you very much, you just helped us to make our decision on who to vote for in the next election – Pakatan Rakyat!

A Malaysian Taxpayer: Lest she forget, let us remind Azalina that it is us, the Malaysian taxpayers irregardless of our political alliances, who are paying her MP allowances, etc. We are contributing to the coffers of the ministries that pays for her junkets abroad and that includes the chartered plane ride to Kathmandu to hand over the flag to the Everest climbers.

She is treating the ministry as her personal fiefdom and is spending our money any way she chooses. She should count herself lucky that she did not have to put herself to the test during GE 12 as the candidate (for reasons known only to himself) who was suppose to stand against her did not turn up at the nomination centre. Pakatan Rakyat, please have a backup candidate for GE13 so that we can sweep her away during the next tsunami. Maybe then she will not be so cocky.

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