KOTA KINABALU: An investigation into the allegation that foreign owned souvenir shops barring locals from entering their premises is underway, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said.
“I will make a formal statement on the issue after the investigation is completed. We are checking another shop today (yesterday),” Masidi said when asked to comment on the complaint raised by Sabah Democratic Action Party (DAP) Youth movement recently.
Masidi added that he would also be calling for a meeting with all relevant parties after getting the findings of the investigations.
He however was of the opinion that it was not fair to those involved to make report without conducting investigation into the complaint first.
He said this when met at the press conference on Sabah Zone ‘My Gempak’ talent carnival yesterday.
Last week, Kota Kinabalu DAP Youth assistant chief Junz Wong told reporters that they had been tipped off by members of the public that some souvenir shops owned by foreigners had refused to let local visitors patronize their shops.
Wong claimed that they went to two of the shops located in Kepayan and Jalan Bundusan respectively and had allegedly been denied entry upon being found that they were locals.
“The shop assistants in both premises immediately refused to let us in upon discovering that we were locals. And when we asked why, they did not give us any valid reason but asked us to leave instead,” claimed Wong.
“We are appalled as to how foreigners are allowed to operate here in Sabah and yet disallow Sabahans to enter their shops. Not only that, it raises questions as to why this can happen,” said Wong.
He said while the shops might or might not have the right to ‘choose’ their customers, it was however suspicious for the shops to operate in such a manner.
He said the refusal to let local patrons into their shops could be due to selling Sabahan handicrafts at much higher prices, or that the so-called local handicrafts were not truly local.
“Maybe they are selling foreign and cheaper handicrafts but claim the crafts to be locally Sabahan-made,” said Wong, adding that the shops were also claimed to only cater to ‘guided tourists’ whereby tour buses would transport tourists to these shops instead of having walk-in patrons.
He said the relevant ministry should verify the situation and explain as to why it could happen.
“Whether the relevant ministry is aware of this or not, we want to know how this is allowed to happen as the image of Sabah’s tourism industry is at risk,” said Wong.
by Nancy Lai