Liew strongly supports the call for a one-stop centre for application process

KOTA KINABALU: Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Christina Liew strongly supports the call for a one-stop centre to expedite the processing and approval of applications for licences and permits by event organisers, particularly international event organisers.

She said she had received complaints of delay in obtaining the necessary permits from several international event organisers, recently.

“We urgently need a one-stop centre to do away with bureaucratic obstacles or administrative hurdles during the application processing stage. It is very frustrating for the event organisers if it takes two to three months for them to get a reply.

“It would be ideal if within one month, the relevant authorities could approve the applications, barring any hitches, which can be resolved (if any),” Liew said during a courtesy call by a delegation from the Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition (MICE) and Business Events (BE) Committee headed by Sitti B. Damsal as Chairperson on Thursday. The Committee is under the Sabah Economic Advisory Council (SEAC) chaired by Tan Sri David Chu.

The Minister said that once the Sabah Convention Bureau (SCB) is formalised, its marketing team will have to move very fast in bidding for MICE events. “To promote Sabah Tourism, the MICE and BE Committee must work with us (SCB) for pre and post-events for MICE participants. Rest assured, my Ministry (KePKAS) will also give its full support for any MICE event brought to Sabah by the Committee,” Liew said in response to a presentation on bidding for key regional or international events by the Committee Secretary Mona Abdul Manap.

According to Chu, industry players have raised problems arising from the “long wait” for a licence or permit for the last 20 years. SEAC member Datuk John Lo, who could not agree more, opined that if there is no reply from the relevant authority after 30 days, then the application should be considered as approved.

The call for a one-stop centre, made by the MICE and BE Committee, was supported by the Minister and SEAC.

Meanwhile, Sitti said it would defeat the purpose of encouraging MICE events to be held in Sabah if organisers face difficulties in securing a licence and permit for their proposed business events.

“We must avoid delaying the processing of these applications. It’s not conducive for any industry for that matter. People in the business industry (be it tourism, service, logistics, manufacturing, production, entertainment, etc) have to move fast. Time is an important factor, and they can’t afford to waste precious time,” she pointed out.

Sharing an unfortunate experience, Chief Executive Officer of the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC), Datuk Rosmawati Lasuki lamented that SICC lost two prospective business events due to a delay in obtaining the necessary permits.

“This forced the organiser to cancel the event or postpone it to next year. In the meantime, we had to turn away another event organiser because the earlier one had booked the venue for six months for an intended event, which did not materialise, so we lost two business opportunities.”

Also present were the Ministry’s Deputy Permanent Secretary II Alesia Sion, Chairman of SME Sabah Prof Datuk Foo Ngee Kee, and Chairman of the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), Sabah & Labuan Chapter, Hafizan Abdullah.

Photo : Liew (seated 4th left), flanked by the Ministry’s Deputy Permanent Secretary II Alesia Sion (on her left) and Chu, with the delegation from SEAC, and Mice and BE Committee. Seated 2nd left is Lo.

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