By : DATUK MASIDI MANJUN
ON BEHALF of the tourism fraternity in Sabah I would like to record our appreciation to the Federal Government on the measures it has taken to guarantee the security of Sabah and its people and to ensure visitors too feel doubly safe and secure.
The decision to create the Special Security Area which is now known as ESSCOM will no doubt help to solve the perennial problems of illegal entry and smuggling along Sabah’s 1,400 km eastern coastline.
Obviously ESSCOM will further boast the confidence of tourists and beach/island tourism operators, that their wellbeing and safety is the top priority of the Government despite the fact that Sabah has all along enjoyed peace and stability.
The announcement by the Home Minister and the Police on the establishment or upgrading of police stations in strategic locations is a boon to the tourism industry in Sabah. It is a proactive measure by the Police to ensure the wellbeing of citizens and tourists alike in its effort to improve and manage public security in all parts of Sabah.
No doubt that the event of the last few weeks in Lahad Datu has some impact on the tourism industry in Sabah. The issues of perception and rumours do effect decision whether to travel to Sabah.
We understand. I would like to reiterate what many leaders and the Police have said many times, that Sabah is a safe place to visit. As of today only 3 primary schools in Lahad Datu are still close because they are situated within the area where mopping-up operations are in progress.
The area in question is in an isolated village which over 140 km from the town of Lahad Datu and not within the tourism belt of Sabah. I have gone to Lahad Datu a few days ago to personally observe the situation there. I have found that the people there are going on with their normal life.
I urge all Sabahans especially those in the tourism industry to go on with their business as usual. We have a lot of job to do to woo back tourists to come to Sabah. The Federal and the State authorities are doing their best to bring confidence in the Industry in Sabah with the measures that I have stated earlier.
The people of Sabah can assist by not allowing themselves to be tools of rumour-mongering. Resist the urge to post baseless rumours to your FB and Twitter account. Foreign tourists confidence in Sabah depends a lot in the way Sabahans conduct themselves.
What Sabahans post in social forums reflect themselves and Sabah. If we truly love Sabah, every Sabahan should consider himself/herself as the State’s ambassador to promote this beloved State to the world.