Gerakan slams MAS for Sabah tourism washout - Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia

Gerakan slams MAS for Sabah tourism washout

Sabah is likely to lose RM72 million in tourism revenue as a result of MAS rationalizing of routes from Sabah.

KOTA KINABALU: As the Sabah tourism industry watches business plunge following the recent shakeup in the national airline industry, state Barisan Nasional leaders have been caught unprepared for the economic turmoil it has caused in the state.
Several BN leaders are scrambling to extricate themselves and their parties from the mess that has shaken one of the mainstays of the Sabah economy.
Following criticism from State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Masidi Manjun for its recent decision to suspend the routes servicing, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) found itself on the receiving end this time from Gerakan for the downturn being experienced by hoteliers so early in the year.
Gordon Leong Vui Cheung, its chairman here, described the airline’s flight readjustments as “inconsiderate to the need and plight of the people of Sabah besides being against the ‘1Malaysia’ concept advocated by the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak”.
“In a nation that boasts (the) national integration measures by the government, we are most appalled with MAS’s lack of sensitivity responsibility and concern about its socio-economic obligation to the nation and in particular Sabah.
“We therefore urge MAS to seriously re-consider the negative action and course which it has chosen to take while ignoring the pleads and concerns of Sabahans,” said Leong in a statement yesterday.
Leong was commenting on a statement by party member, Minister of Youth and Sports Peter Pang on Friday, stressing that MAS’ top management must realize the airline has an obligation to provide readily available and affordable flights within the country.
“We are most disappointed, to say the least, with the recent unhealthy move made by MAS and we do share the concerns, anxiety and worries experienced and raised by all Sabahans, individual travelers to major tourism players alike,” Leong said.
The reaction from the BN leaders comes after several embarrassing incidents were highlighted in local newspapers revealing how travellers from and to Sabah were unable to obtain seats on flights in the national airline.
Two incidents that were reported this week involved a heart patient who had to seek urgent medical treatment in Kuala Lumpur accompanied by a family member as well as a woman who was unable to fulfill her mother’s wish to see her.

RM72 million loss likely
All were forced to take alternative measures to travel for much costs, according to the reports.
Leong said that the state was already experiencing a decline in tourist arrivals which he blamed on limited flights and the cancellation of “unprofitable routes” serving the eastern hub and connecting the state to Osaka, Heneda, Seoul and Perth.
He said transport authorities should have been aware that any changes in the policies and business plans by MAS, its subsidiary, Firefly and budget airline AirAsia would inevitably affect the state tourism industry players and the people.
Those in the tourism industry here fear that the soaring cost of and unpredictable domestic travel will force holiday makers and domestic travellers to by-pass Sabah.
Leong estimated that the Sabah tourism sector would stand to lose at least RM72 million a year based on last year’s 30,000 arrivals from Australia alone.
The national airline, which has been haemorrhaging money for several years due to poor management, has been unable to implement effective strategies to make its business more viable and has instead taken the easy way out by stopping flights, he said.
“They should be thinking outside of the box, including adopting the Blue Ocean Strategy to regain its profitability and long term financial viability.”
Leong urged the anti-monopoly Malaysia Competition Commission to investigate the share swap and business alliance between MAS and AirAsia to protect consumers from any form of monopolistic practices or exploitation.
“At the end of the day, the people of Sabah and Sarawak will be the biggest losers if such a counter-productive policy is being adopted incessantly and continuously by MAS, Firefly and AirAsia,” he pointed out.





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