Malaysia: Errant tourists disturbing marine life: Dive masters, tour companies may be penalize

KRISTY INUS New Straits Times 26 Mar 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Tour companies and dive masters in Sabah may be held accountable if tourists under their charge, are found to disturb marine life in the state.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the state government is considering penalising both parties, so that they could "share responsibility".

“The way some of these irresponsible tourists are handling our marine life is not good. In some countries, it can even be considered an offence.

“If we allow it to go on, this will send the wrong signal to other tourists, who might start a campaign against visiting Sabah.

“So we are seriously looking into this before the problem gets worse. I have asked Dr Jamili Nais (Sabah Parks director) to check if there are existing provisions to allow us to penalise (the culprits).

“At the same time, Sabah Parks will also ensure that tour companies and dive masters read out the dos and don’ts to their clients, before embarking on water activities (dive or snorkeling),” he said after launching the new office of Sabah Tourist Guides Association (STGA) at Lintas Square here.

Masidi was commenting on past reports where tourists were found holding turtles or touching corals.

When asked on the two-month suspension on three mountain guides who wave an opposition political party's (Parti Warisan Sabah) flag on Mount Kinabalu summit, Masidi said he agreed with Sabah Parks on the matter.

“If you are not a guide, there's no such rule (waving political party flag). But as working guides, doing so is wrong.

“The mountain guides need to respect their profession. And I agree that there should not be politics in the workplace (as mentioned by Jamili),” he stressed.

Kinabalu Park has issued the letter of suspension to the three guides until the end of May, following undated photographs of them posing with the Warisan flag had gone viral on Facebook.

Jamili added that it was not right to bring political sentiment into the workplace where tourists are involved and can stir unease among climbers, who might be supporters of other parties.

Move to stop tourists disturbing marine life
The Star 27 Mar 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Some irresponsible tourists are disturbing marine creatures in Sabah Parks and the state government wants to put a stop to this.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said dive and tour operators might be held responsible for the tourists under them.

He said it was important for the operators to ensure that tourists at marine parks did not resort to such acts.

“I always get pictures sent to me of tourists posing with different types of sea life.

“This is very negative to us. We need to put a stop to this,” he said when opening the Sabah Tourist Guides Association office at the Lintas Square here yesterday.

Masidi added that he had asked Sabah Parks to look into current state laws over the possibility of taking action against the operators who failed to advise or brief their tourists.