Response to The Sun (Response to The Sun (109 projects overshoot budgets by RM 527 mil)

The Editor
Sun Media Corporation Sdn Bhd
Level 4, Lot 6, Jalan 51/217
46050 Petaling Jaya

Dear Sir,
With reference to the Sun newspaper report "109 projects overshoot budgets by RM 527 mil", the Ministry of Tourism would like to point out that the statement "the Tourism Ministry spent RM14.7 million on Special Products Promotion Programmes despite having no allocation" is not true. This is because an allocation of RM36.5 million was approved by the Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister's Department to undertake Special Products Promotion Programmes. In addition, the necessary approvals were obtained from the Ministry of Finance.
Regarding the Homestay Programme, the Ministry acknowledges the audit finding that 8 houses were not well-kept and were registered despite not fulfilling the criteria. However, with the follow-up action by the Ministry, 4 houses were deregistered while 4 houses remained in the Homestay Programme after improvements were made to meet the specified standards.
Taking into consideration the audit findings, the Ministry conducted a nation-wide inspection of all homestays. As a result, 458 homestay houses were deregistered due to voluntary withdrawal from the program or failure to fulfil the criteria or minimum standards.
As part of efforts to enhance the Homestay Programme, a re-inspection program was initiated to ensure that all registered homestay participants comply with the guidelines and quality standards. Other measures include the implementation of a more stringent homestay registration process and the provision of continuous training for homestay operators such as Homestay Enhancement Training Program, Malaysia Welcomes the World, food hygiene, homestay marketing and promotion. With these improvements, the Homestay Programme is expected to maintain the quality standards and generate a higher level of income and employment to the rural economy.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Dato' Dr. Ong Hong Peng
Secretary General
Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia
28 October 2010

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