[UPDATED] Tourism Malaysia DG demoted, not sacked, says Tiong [NSTTV]

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board (Tourism Malaysia) former director-general Datuk Ammar Abd Ghapar was demoted from his post due to non-performance, said Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing.

In denying claims that Ammar was removed for alleged racist issues, Tiong clarified that the latter was not sacked, but instead demoted to deputy director-general.

"I have given him multiple chances, and advised him. It is like he has no idea or doesn't know what to do to improve the tourism industry in the country.

"In fact, in a recent board meeting, I gave him instructions not to do something, but he did it anyway, so I asked for him to be demoted immediately.

"His demotion was because of his performance, and not at all linked to racism.

"If you don't perform, then you must be replaced. I didn't sack him, but I demoted him.

Tiong told this to reporters after the launch of National Craft Day at Kompleks Kraf here, today.

Yesterday, it was reported that Ammar would be removed from his post as of Feb 26.

He told the Malay Mail that he had received a letter from Tiong, informing him of the move.

"The letter just says effective Feb 26, I am no longer the director-general. It does not say anything else transferred to where, holding what post, what grade.

"I have no intention of going against any directive or instructions given to me. But, I feel very frustrated and sad.

"I think that after serving for 36 years, (with) the experiences that I have got, I should not be treated this way," Ammar was quoted as saying.

Tiong also said Ammar was not the first choice to replace his predecessor, Datuk Zainuddin Abdul Wahab, who had retired in April 2023.

"I gave him the chance because he (Ammar) has a PhD in tourism, but he didn't do his job (well) and (his performance) didn't reflect his qualification."

He alleged that Ammar had not made any plans to improve the tourism industry and claimed that even state industry players were complaining about the lack of engagement from the tourism board.

"Thailand can get 10 million tourists annually from China alone. We only receive 2 million Chinese tourists at most. Why are we stagnant?

"I set a target of 5 million Chinese tourists, and he told me it was not doable, and asked for the target to be at 3 million… even that we have not achieved.

"Ammar was supposed to end his term by March next year, but for the sake of the nation's tourism industry, I cannot wait until next year to take action," Tiong added.

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