Sabah minister worried recent crimes will affect local tourism industry

KOTA KINABALU: The recent spate of crimes in the city could affect the local tourism industry, says Datuk Christina Liew.

The state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister said she was alarmed at the recent muggings which left two women injured last week.

She also pointed out that of late, there were cases of cars smashed along the popular Gaya Street and robberies in the city involving both tourists and locals, besides attempted burglaries in housing areas.

She said the latest mugging incidents, including the brutal attack by a snatch-thief turned robber on a hapless woman, could have adverse effects on tourism, which was only beginning to pick up after Covid-19.

“The horrifying nature of the robberies, in which a woman was brutally attacked, would not only earn a bad name for Gaya Street but would also scare off potential tourists,” she said, in a statement here on Thursday (Feb 22).

“I am absolutely appalled at the outrageous acts of the robbers.

“Sadly, the last two incidents in the city indicated that would-be criminals were getting brazen and targeting locals.

“It could strike fear in the hearts of shoppers and visitors, and we do not want this to happen,” added Liew.

An 18-year-old boy was arrested last Thursday (Feb 15) after he allegedly robbed two women within six hours in the back alley of a bank in Gaya Street here.

In the first incident, a 35-year-old clerk was assaulted and robbed of RM50 at about noon. She sustained injuries to her head and body.

The boy was arrested in the vicinity when police and passers-by caught him after he snatched a mobile phone from another woman.

In another incident, city police nabbed a 29-year-old man in connection with the brutal assault and robbery of a woman at about 6.30am last Friday (Feb 16).

The arrest on Sunday (Feb 18) came about after a man was captured on CCTV using a stick to beat the woman during a robbery.

In the video which went viral, the woman could be seen trying to escape from the man who chased after her before dragging her away and hitting her with the stick.

Last month, city police detained two foreign men who had committed armed robberies against a senior citizen and a Chinese tourist.

Liew, who is Api-Api assemblyman, said Gaya Street was a historic location, and a popular destination with locals and tourists alike.

"The crowd at the Api-Api Night Food Market on Fridays and Saturdays is now back to the pre-pandemic level, and vendors are doing a brisk business.

“Let us not allow criminal activities to be a spoiler," she added.

The minister subsequently urged the police to tighten the security in and around the state capital besides intensifying patrols, and for the local authority to install more closed circuit television (CCTV) facilities and improve street lighting.

“Do anything possible to make Kota Kinabalu a safer city,” Liew said.

She also urged for the revived tourist police unit to be deployed to strategic locations in the city, including Gaya Street, to restore public confidence.

“We cannot allow this dangerous situation to escalate into something beyond control,” Liew said.

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