MACC Taking Closer Look At Tourism Players Following Airport Brouhaha

Sazali, left, at the MACC Aidilfitri ‘open house’ on Saturday. He said graft busters are monitoring the happenings in the tourism industry.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s tourism players have come under the radar of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission following last week’s brouhaha involving tourist guides and allegations that the authorities concerned are not taking action against the guilty parties.

When asked if the MACC would be monitoring alleged cases of “hanky panky” in the tourism sector, Sazali Salbi, Sabah’s top graft buster, said that they were gathering information.

He said they would be looking into tourism-related government agencies as well as the private sector and if there was any corrupt practice on the part of anyone involved in the industry.

“We will act accordingly, whether they are agency officials or industry players, including the tourist guides,” he told reporters at the Sabah MACC Aidilfitri ‘open house’ gathering here Saturday.

About 200 tourists from China were stranded at KKIA ealry Saturday morning after their tour guides went ‘missing’ and they were left to fend for themselves.

Sazali said that the investigations was normal and part of efforts to clear any stumbling blocks that could obstruct the tourism sector in Sabah which he described as a major revenue-earner for the state.

Last Saturday, some 40 local tourist guides created a scene at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport claiming that illegal tourist guides had ‘invaded’ their territory and denying them the opportunity of providing services to the foreigners.

But Ag Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar Sabah director of the Malaysian Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (MOTAC) shot down these allegations and claimed that the local tourist guides were greedy as they could earn fat commissions from the China tourists.

Earning commissions by bringing the tourists to shopping malls or other specific places was illegal under the law, Ahmad Zaki slammed back.

He said only group leaders, whether local or foreign, were entitled to the commissions.

Ahmad Zaki also ordered the erring tourist guides to file in their statement as to what transpired giving them until this Tuesday to do so.

Whispers have since been going around that the certain officials were ‘protecting’ the illegal operators, be they guides or tour agencies, but this was cleared by Ahmad Zaki himself who said the tour agency that brought in the China tours was legal.