Handle My Borneo Mates With Tact, Rahman Tells Cabinet Colleagues

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan is not sitting back to watch his fellow Borneons get an unnecessary and crude tongue lashing from his Cabinet colleagues.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department was quoted by a national portal as saying that Malayan ministers must be more conciliatory when handling dissent from east Malaysia, amid a row between a federal and Sarawak minister over the new tourism tax.

ABDUL RAHMAN DAHLAN

Rahman, the federl lawmaker from Kota Belud acknowledged that there was resistance from Sarawak over the matter, but said handling this with civility would do better in mollifying such concerns.

Although he did not specifically name anyone in his tweets, it was Tourism and Culture Minister, Nazri Aziz who has drawn the ire of both Sabahans and Sarawakians when he slammed his Sarawak counterpart Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah over the latter’s comments on the tax.

“Federal ministers can certainly be more accommodative when dealing with genuine questions and concerns from Sabah and Sarawak leaders,” the minister in charge of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), was quoted saying in the MalayMail Online Monday.

“The tourism tax can be justified and explained. But the subsequent spat between Sbh&Swk leaders and MOTAC is making the effort harder,” he said using the acronym to refer to Nazri’s ministry.

Rahman also defended Abdul Karim’s track record as a lawmaker, saying the latter has years of experience even though he was only recently appointed as a state minister.

ABDUL KARIM RAHMAN

Abdul Karim previously urged Putrajaya to defer the July 1 implementation of the new tax for Sabah and Sarawak, saying the federal government should respect the Malaysia Agreement 1963 when deciding such matters.

This led to a rebuke from Nazri, who on Sunday not only told his Sarawak counterpart not to be confrontational over the matter, but called him a greenhorn and ‘samseng’ (thug).

Nazri also said the tax would benefit Sarawak more than it would affect tourism in the state, noting that luxury hotels that would attract the highest tax rate were a rarity in the state.

Sarawak on Monday also announced its withdrawal from the Malaysian Tourism Board with immediate effect, saying the state’s own tourism board was performing similar functions.

Meanwhile, in an open letter to Nazri, a Sarawakian reader wrote: “Our YB Karim is known to us all in Sarawak as a humble, soft-spoken and caring State Representative.

“He politely requested a deferment of the arguably ill-conceived and somewhat hastily implemented Tourist Tax. YB Karim spoke in a civil and polite manner which is in direct contrast to you.

“You are clearly misguided to imply that state reps have no standing to question lawmakers. You sit on your Putra Jaya high chair and childishly act like a principle in a school reprimanding his ‘students’.

“I daresay, it is you who could learn a thing or two from our YB Karim – some manners, to start with.”