EO return ‘out of the question’, says minister

(MM) – Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz today shot down the possible return of the Emergency Ordinance to give the police preventive detention powers they want to tackle a rise in violent crime, despite acknowledging its effects on the tourism sector.

The minister explained that news of the shooting incidents could not be contained and it was inevitable that the world would eventually learn of them.

“Certainly it will affect in a way our tourism, there’s no doubt about it, but to bring back the EO is out of the question as far as I am concerned,” the minister of tourism and culture told the media after launching the Red Carpet wax museum at i-City here.

Nazri said the government should instead overhaul the police force in order to arrest violent crime.

“We should do more modern policing, gathering of evidence, strengthen the Special Branch, put more policemen on the street but not bring back the EO, that’s out of the question,” he said.

The police and Home Ministry have blamed the rash of shootings and violent crimes on the release of detainees once held without trial under the now-repealed EO, and are angling for the return of such powers.

When asked for the number of tourists in recent weeks during which a string of shootings took place across the country, Nazri said his ministry did not have the statistics yet.

But he said the number of tourist arrivals in the first six months this year was up by 7.9 per cent against the same period last year.

“Even though there was a dip in June because of the haze, Singaporeans were not coming then, but overall there is an increase of 7.9 per cent,” he said, noting the country was “on track” to achieving the targeted figure of 26.8 million tourist arrivals this year.

The ministry’s secretary-general, Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng, later told reporters that Malaysia had recorded the arrival of 12.5 million tourists from January until June this year against 11.6 million for the corresponding period last year.

Earlier in his speech, Nazri said the tourism industry remained the third-largest contributor to the economy last year, recording total revenue of RM60.6 billion and registering 25.03 million visitors last year.

Putrajaya is targeting 26 million tourist arrivals and total revenue of RM168 billion by the year 2020 under the Malaysian Tourism Transformation Programme (MTTP).