Petronas has been urged to explain why it terminated the services of Sarawakian and Sabahan tour companies that have been handling the ticketing and travelling needs of its personnel for years, while appointing a Kuala Lumpur-based company as its panel agent.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel (Matta) Sarawak Chapter chairman Chris Kon pointed out that the move was very unfair to the Sarawakian companies.
“Petronas imposed new criteria for the companies wishing to continue as their panel agents, one of them being that they must have branches in all the states. The criteria were given on very short notice, and as a result, the local companies lost their businesses with Petronas because they could not fulfil the criteria.
“Big companies benefit, while state-based companies lose out,” he said when contacted by The Borneo Post for comments yesterday.
The matter was first brought to the notice of The Borneo Post by the managing director of a local tour agency, who requested anonymity, citing concern as a Sarawakian over what he saw as an unjust move towards East Malaysian tour agents.
He explained that effective July 1 this year, the panel of four Sarawak-based tour companies and three Sabah-based tour companies that had been handling Petronas’ account suddenly were not able to do so because of some policy change.
“Instead, all travelling matters are now being handled by one Kuala Lumpur-based tour company, which has a joint venture with a French company. As a result, there has been retrenchment of staff by some of the companies who are suffering from financial losses, thus making locals lose their jobs.
“The sudden change in policy also resulted in millions of ringgit worth of unpaid bills owed by Petronas.
“Petronas needs to explain about this new policy that is making Sarawakian and Sabahan companies lose out,” he said when met at his office yesterday.
The veteran tour agent, who has 45 years of experience in the tour and travel industry, lamented that it was unfortunate that the services of local tour agencies that are equally capable in dealing with the travelling needs of Petronas were terminated.
“Where is Petronas’ sense of corporate ‘commercial’ responsibility, when they create new policies that are detrimental to local companies?
“Why does it choose to team up with only one agent that is linked to a foreign company when all this while there were agents from Sarawak and Sabah as their panel? Are the Malaysian agents not qualified to handle their travelling needs? Why the need to outsource, so to speak?
“All International Air Transport Association (IATA) certified tour agents in the country are qualified to handle the kind of travel services required by Petronas to every corner of the world. There is no question about it,” he stressed.
Despite not being one of those affected, he took this matter seriously.
“I am voicing this out from a patriotic sense for our people here. Why are Sarawakians and Sabahans becoming bystanders when they are more than qualified with many years of industry experience?
“To be fair, local agents must be involved, not become bystanders,” he asserted.
The Borneo Post Online