Sarawak BN lawmakers equally to blame for tourism tax, says opposition
SARAWAK Barisan Nasional leaders are as much to blame as the federal government for the new tourism tax taking effect on July 1, says the opposition.
"All the Sarawak BN MPs supported the bill in Parliament," said Sarawak DAP leader Chong Chieng Jen.
"The bill was also tabled by a minister with the full authority and sanction of the Federal Cabinet, where there are many Sarawak BN ministers," the Kota Sentosa assemblyman told the Malaysian Insight today.
Yesterday, State Tourism Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the federal government had imposed tax laws in the state without consulting the Sarawak government.
He added that the tourism tax went against the spirit of Malaysia Agreement 1963.
Chong said Sarawak BN was trying to place all the blame on the federal government and refusing to take responsibility for the new tax.
The tourism tax bill was tabled in Parliament during the infamous marathon session of April 5.
The bill was the last of six bills passed in that record-setting 20-hour session.
"Sarawak BN is now expressing its opposition. It is clearly 'sandiwara' (playacting), unless it is accusing its MPs of not defending the state's interests in Parliament," Chong said.
Sarawak PKR leader Baru Bian said BN leaders had no reason to complain about the new tax.
"If it is enforced under the newly passed law, then there is no reason for the state BN to cry foul. Where were its MPs (when the bill was passed)?
"Unless of course, the act states that the Sarawak state must be consulted before the tax might be implemented. Only then can they blame the federal government," he said.
Bukit Assek assemblyman Irene Chang said if Karim's statements were to be believed, the state government has failed to safeguard the people's interests.
To make up for it, she said, the Sarawak government should now provide tax breaks.
"This has come at a most inopportune time when everyone is economically affected. Now that the tax has been imposed, the state government owes it to the Sarawakians to alleviate their burden," said the state DAP Women chief.
Dr Kelvin Yii, special assistant to Chong, said it was the responsibility of the BN MPs to inform the state government of the bills passed in Parliament.
"They cannot just wash their hands clean of their duties. Their continual support for the ruling government is what continues to empower BN to introduce all these taxes to cover up wastage and bad governance," he said in a statement today.
"The ever increasing taxes... just show how the national coffers are drying up and they are finding ways to squeeze revenue from the people as well as the local industries," Yii said. – June 9, 2017.