MELAKA: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron has defended his official overseas trips, saying that it was necessary to bring about positive development in the state, particularly in the tourism sector.
Idris said besides being chief minister, he also holds three portfolios including Tourism, Coastal Development, River and Island Development Exco, Youth and Heritage Exco, as well as Finance, Land, Economic Planning, Investments, Industrial and Religious Affairs Exco.
“As such, I must be available (for overseas working trips) at all times to strengthen the state (of Melaka) so that it can gain recognition by other nations,” he told the state legislative assembly here today.
Idris was answering a supplementary question by Lai Keun Ban (DAP-Kota Laksamana) who questioned his frequent working overseas trip and the rationale behind them.
“We have heard the tabling of the 2018 Budget where tourism plays an important role in the economic activity of the state.
"If we remain idle and do not move out of the state (to promote it), who will know Melaka? Melaka will just be a sleepy hollow.
“We must think far, as the Malay saying goes, “kalau mahukan sagu, mesti dipecahkan ruyungnya (if you want something, you must work hard to get it).
“Each trip has its importance. We can see rapid development with 16.28 million tourist arrivals last year and we are targeting 16.75 million tourist arrivals this year.
“Various efforts must be done and if we continue to just sit idly, I doubt we will be recognised (internationally). I am doing this (overseas trip) for the prosperity of the state.
Idris added that it was not “a fun thing” to do as he made sacrifices during the trips.
He said throughout his tenure as the chief minister between 2013 and 2017, he had 51 trips.
“In 2013, I went for six trips, 2014 (15 trips), 2015 (12 trips), 2016 (8 trips) and up till November this year, I went for 10 trips, totalling to 51 trips."
He said his predecessor, Tan Sri Mohd Ali Rustam, had 61 trips overseas, of which 12 trips were made in 2008, eight trips in 2009, 11 trips in 2010, 10 trips in 2011, 18 trips in 2012, and two trips in 2013.
During the question-and-answer session, Lai had asked Idris to list down the total number of overseas trips and the cost.
He also asked Idris to list the purpose of each visit, number of delegation, destination, cost of the trip, cost bearers and the outcome of the trip.