Monday, April 16, 2007

Tourism groups defend Lada


ALOR STAR The Star 14 April 2007: Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) should not be penalised for ‘rushing through’ certain projects to have the basic infrastructure ready before the arrival of Unesco team of Geopark assessors, according to players in the tourism industry.

Langkawi Tourist Guide Association chairman C. Vijayandran said Lada had to implement the basic infrastructure projects fast before the arrival of the Unesco team on March 30.

“I believe there was no hanky panky in-volved in awarding the projects because the projects were carried in consultation with the authorities and industry players,” he said. He said four sub-committees were formed to get feedback from all involved. Vijayandran said this in response to Anti Corruption Agency (ACA)’s probe on projects implemented by Lada.

ACA had initiated investigations on Monday. It is learnt that ACA had seized several documents for further scrutiny.

Langkawi is bidding to be included in the global network of Unesco National Geoparks. So far, 48 sites in 15 countries have been en-dorsed as Unesco National Geopark.

Langkawi Tourism Association deputy pre-sident Pishol Ishak said the people of Langkawi supported the geopark project because the rebranding of Langkawi as a Unesco National Geopark would benefit the locals as well as the tourism industry. “I believe certain quarters are out to sabotage Lada’s efforts,” he said.

Lada general manager Datuk Kamarulzaman Abd Ghani said the Finance Ministry had allocated a special fund for the geopark projects. “We have done everything according to procedure. We are pushing for this geopark in the best interest of Langkawi and Malaysia,” he said.

ACA investigation director Mohd Shukri Abdul said all funds from the Federal and state must be disbursed according to treasury orders. “We must follow regulations even for special funds,” he said.