Hornbill Unleashed

June 28, 2017

Take tourism tax to court, says Sarawak PKR

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:03 AM

See-Chee-How-3Sarawak PKR vice-chairman See Chee How says as a last resort, the governments of Sarawak and Sabah should take the controversial tourism tax to court.

In a statement today, the Batu Lintang assemblyman hit out at the implementation of the tax, which he said “reeks of unconstitutionality, irrationality, illegality and injustice” and “ought to be brought to court for judicial review”.

“The Sarawak and Sabah governments can choose to ask for an exemption from the prime minister, who is the finance minister, to exempt or defer the implementation of the tourism tax in the two East Malaysian states as an immediate and short term measure.

“But it is foreseeable that the controversial tax will be implemented fully and immediately after the impending general election,” he said.

On June 25, Sarawak PKR called on Sarawak and Sabah to insist against the tourism tax being imposed in the two states until their legislative assemblies pass ordinances to authorise the levy there.

See said then that allowing the tax without formal state approvals would be considered as yielding to Parliament’s controversial move in 1994 to include tourism in the Federal Constitution’s Federal List without consent from the states.

“If we concede ‘tourism’ as an item in the Federal List, Sarawak and Sabah will not be able to reclaim those rights that we have lost or have been taken away from us,” he added.

He said Section 45 of the 1994 Amendment Act (A885), which provides for tourism’s inclusion in the Federal List, was put in force on June 24, 1994.

He added that the states should jointly make a representation to Putrajaya and Parliament to annul and revoke Section 45.

Today, See repeated the call for a joint meeting involving the Sarawak and Sabah governments.

“The BN MPs from Sarawak and Sabah may have all voted for the constitutional amendment in 1994, but the inclusion of the clause to make ‘tourism’ a federal subject matter in Section 45 of the amendment bill should not have been there in the first place.

“The MPs forming the two states cannot usurp the power of the Sarawak and Sabah legislative assemblies, to give consent to making ‘tourism’ an item in the Federal List of Schedule 9 of the Federal Constitution.”

See said Sarawak and Sabah’s response to the federal government over the matter had been seen as weak, confused or ignorant of the laws.

However, he warned against such judgments, saying that Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg is aware of the state’s jurisdiction in the matter and understands the unconstitutionality of the passing of the Constitution Amendment Act 1994.

“I think he was just being careful and restrained in his words, saying that there are a lot of matters that are still being discussed,” See said.

He urged the state administrations of Sarawak and Sabah to pool legal minds and look into the legality and propriety of imposing the tourism tax, as well as any constitutional or legal ramifications it may have on the rights and interests of those in the states.

Today, Sin Chew Daily quoted Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz as saying that the implementation of the tourism tax had been postponed to August 1 as some systems were not yet in place.

Nazri added that foreigners would be subjected to the tourism tax, while locals staying at hotels rated three stars and below would be exempted.

According to him, the Customs Department will be in charge of collecting the tourism tax.width=”345″ height=”211″

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