Sabah takes red notice warning on Semporna seriously, says Christina Liew

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has taken the appropriate measures following reports on tourists’ complaints over issues of health and cleanliness in Semporna.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said the state government was taking a serious view of the warning issued by Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing over the complaints.

Tiong had said his ministry through its agency would issue a red notice warning for visitors not to go to Semporna, as a last resort, if tourist complaints were not resolved.

"We are taking the necessary action. I immediately reported the case to the Chief Minister (Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor) who has directed the relevant authorities to take remedial action," she said, in a statement on Sunday (Aug 20).

"On Friday (Aug 18), the Semporna District Council issued a report in response to the issues raised by the federal minister on Thursday (August 17)," she added.

She explained that aspects of public cleanliness, health and safety in the town area are within the jurisdiction of the Semporna District Council and the District Office.

On the other hand, she said, Tun Sakaran Marine Park and Sipadan Island Park, which are located far from the town, were under the purview of Sabah Parks, which one of the agencies under her ministry, and kept as clean as possible.

The report by the Semporna District Council contained explanations and touched on the real situation that needed to be given attention so that the problems highlighted by Tiong would not jeopardise tourism activities in Semporna as a whole.

According to Tiong, tourist complaints centred around poor hygiene, unsatisfactory cleanliness such as rubbish strewn in various places, cases of food poisoning, pest infestation and poor hospitality services.

He subsequently warned that a red notice would be issued if the situation persisted.

He had also requested Sabah Tourism Ministry, the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry and relevant parties involved to submit proposals and action plans to resolve the complaints within three days.

The Semporna District Council's report stated that the issues raised did not reflect the true situation as the incidence of food poisoning was considered an isolated case.

Furthermore, positive feedback from visitors indicated that the standard of cleanliness in the district has greatly improved compared with that in the past.

However, the council attributed the floating rubbish around the offshore islands to indiscriminate waste disposal by water villages in the coastal areas, adding that plans were afoot to increase the frequency of marine clean-up activities.

Presently, steps were being taken to move the squatters with the aim of minimising the risk of dumping garbage in the waters, the council said.

An engagement session would be held for island residents to educate them on the importance of maintaining the cleanliness of the waters in Semporna.

The council said it would intensify efforts to ensure the cleanliness of business premises and the environment through its external operation units.

A circular would be distributed to all operators of business premises such as eateries and facilities such as hotels, resorts and homestays to upgrade their level of cleanliness.

There would also be an engagement session with all business owners on Monday (Aug 21), involving 200 to 300 participants.

To date, the district health office had inspected 397 eateries and issued compound notices for various offences, according to the report.

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 Cleanliness , Hygiene , Red Notice , Semporna , Tourism ,


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