Malaysia is truly not asia

Tourism in Malaysia is recognised as one of the major industries that provide foreign exchange earnings and generate employment for the rakyat.

Over the last 30 years, the growing number of tourism agencies, tourist destinations and foreign tourists visiting Malaysia has geometrically promoted tourism into becoming a major industry.

This sector grows about 7-8% every year and in 2009 contributed about RM53 billion.

The Malaysian Tourism Board statistics (2008) showed that Malaysia had recorded a total of 12,891,202 tourist arrivals from January to July 2008 compared to 12,404,377 tourist arrivals for the same period in 2007.

Malaysia targets to receive 36 million tourists and bring in RM168 billion in revenue from the tourism industry in 2020. But does the Malaysian government want this sector to grow further?

The recent move by the Malaysian Tourism and Culture Ministry to bar the serving of non-halal food at the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia (FF1M) 2014 has angered major tourist promoters.

On the one hand they are spending millions promoting tourism from China, India, Far East, Middle East and Europe with the message that Malaysia is truly Asia, but on the other hand they insist that only halal food be served. Such contradictions can only take place in Malaysia.

Oktoberfest 2014 is celebrated all over the world merrily and with festivity. In Malaysia, one extreme Muslim group protested till the authorities had to permit only indoor Oktoberfest celebrations. Rock music concerts, Ultraman (a Japanese children’s show character) shows and musical shows by Western artistes have been banned due to pressure from extremist groups.

The growing narrow-minded religious fervour in Malaysia is a threat to the growing tourist industry.  Some smart elites are thinking of focusing on Islamic tourism in Malaysia.

It is common knowledge that even in Jordan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Dubai and the like, bacon and sausages are served for breakfast. They serve it in hotels where there are NO halal signs. It says PORK.

“If Muslims must be guided by the word ‘halal’ so that they don’t eat pork by accident, what more can I say?” asked a fellow Malaysian.

Furthermore, to impose it on the tourism promotion of a multi-cultural country says a lot about our own arrogance, stupidity and ignorance. Malaysia’s neighbours are aggressively promoting their country as a tourist destination. Here, the Malaysian government is messing up and losing its competitive edge.

The Kelantan government is now competing with UMNO to scare away tourists by talking about cruel punishments, and this goes on while the educated and developed world is becoming more conscious of human rights and doing away with death penalty and caning. More Middle East tourists go to Thailand than Malaysia.

Extremists and fundamentalists seem to be setting the agenda for tourism.

Which extremist country has succeeded in promoting tourism?

Malaysia has lost two aeroplanes. The tragedies have resulted in fewer tourists coming here. While the nation is slowly recovering from the negative publicity arising from the episodes, the tourism authorities are adding more negativity and misery to the already affected industry.

Somehow, the Malaysian government never seems to learn from its own or others’ mistakes. These extremist groups are small yet they seem to instill fear in the ruling government’s thinking.

Explore posts in the same categories: From the desk of Senator S Ramakrishnan

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