Press Statement By Julian Tan:
This morning, together with MP for Bandar Kuching, YB Kelvin Yii, we paid a visit to India street to understand the situation on the ground better. Also with us, Sdr Anthony Chin, Democratic Action Party Socialist Youth (DAPSY) Kuching’s Chief.
We distribute New Year Calendar and, as with tradition, our specially designed ‘Angpow’ packets in conjunction with the coming Chinese New Year celebration. Chinese observe the tradition of giving ‘Angpow’ to our children and those that are yet to tie the knot. As the blessing goes, we wish everyone will have a wonderful and blessed 2021. May 2021 be the year of breakthrough for everyone. We also take the opportunity to remind the public to be vigilant in adhering to the COVID-19 SOP, especially during this festive season.
We also can’t help but notice that businesses there have been greatly affected by the COVID19 pandemic. India Street is now quieter without foreign tourists, a sight that we find it hard to be accustomed to on a street that was once packed with tourists from both aboard and domestic.
In Sarawak, the tourism sector was among the worst-hit economic sectors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of the biggest contributors to the state’s Gross Domestic Product – GDP, which generated RM11.57 billion tourism receipts and accounted for 8.72 percent of its GDP in 2019 alone. It is reported that from the period of January – October 2020, tourist arrivals in Sarawak dropped 68.8% or tourism receipts of RM2.82Billion as compared with the same period in 2019, which amounted to RM9.34 billion. A decline of 6.52billions in 10 months in tourism receipts, that’s a lot of money for a state with a total of 625’400 households based on 2019 figure.
Most traders that we spoke to shared with us that, to cut costs, most have no choice but to cut their workforce. Despite losses, some are trying to stretch through by keeping their workers as long as possible, knowing that their workers have a family to feed. We are touched and, at the same time, deep concern about their plight. The chain domino effect is real; when the SMEs suffer, so do those workers and their families.
Because of this, we would like the urge the state government to reach out to the SMEs, small-time traders, and hawkers immediately without delay. They are the pillar of our social and economic ecosystem by providing jobs, especially to the B40 community, which consists of more than 43% of the total household in Sarawak, based on a 2019 report by the State and Administrative District Sarawak
Special Assistant to YB Chong Chieng Jen