GEORGE TOWN: Malaysians have been told to go out and spread the “Malaysia is safe” message despite the Covid-19 outbreak.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said Malaysia had faced a challenging time since the start of the year due to the virus outbreak.
She, however, said until today the Federal government continued to implement various events and programmes involving the people, with proper safety measures put in place.
“In efforts to thwart the negative perception towards the spread of the virus and its impact on the tourism industry, the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry had set up the Tourism Recovery Action Committee (TRAC) involving the various ministries, government agencies and tourism players, to formulate a recovery strategy for the industry.
“Realising the importance of the tourism industry which contributed 15.2 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), the ministry had also formulated a short-term strategy or "quick wins" to help the industry in facing these trying times.
“As such, tourism activities will continue to be given emphasis by the government.
“And I hope that all Malaysians can spread the positive message that ‘Malaysia is safe’ to visit,” she said in her speech at the national-level Chinese New Year open house at Padang Kota Lama, here, tonight.
In this respect, Dr Wan Azizah also invited the people to continue to render their cooperation and support to the government to reject bad elements, particularly the spread of false news, widely available in social media for personal interest and agenda.
“The spread of false news can bring about negative effects to society, such as causing panic, prejudice and fights.
“As such, the people should always refer to the ‘Sebenarnya.my’ portal to get verified news from the government,” she said.
Elaborating, Dr Wan Azizah said that among the recovery strategy for the tourism industry included promotional efforts for domestic tourism through the "Cuti-Cuti Malaysia" campaign.
“In line with this, I want to invite all Malaysians to spend time holidaying with their families and friends in the country to support the ‘Visit Malaysia 2020’ campaign.
“I have been told that more than 200 tourism and culture events have been planned by the Federal and state governments, private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which have been included in the 2020 tourism calendar to encourage domestic tourism,” she added.
Besides that, she said in light of promoting the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign to the international market, Malaysia, as the host, must receive its visitors sincerely and in a friendly manner.
“We should also display our rich cultural tradition of honesty, sincerity and respect, among others, which is our attraction,” she said.
In her speech, Dr Wan Azizah said the new government appreciated efforts to culturalise unity of the diverse races.
Despite the Covid-19 outbreak, thousands of multiracial crowd turned up at Padang Kota Lama to join in the national-level Chinese New Year open house.
The venue was turned into a fairytale of sorts with lighted lanterns adorning the pathway.
Also present was Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow,.
Among the cabinet ministers present were Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohammadin Ketapi, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa.
A host of activities were lined up throughout the day, which culminated in the national-level Open House tonight.
The event began with the symbolic tossing of the yee sang by the VVIPs who extended their Chinese New Year greetings to the large crowd present.
There was also a lion dance performance by the world famous Muar Kun Seng Keng Lion and Dragon Dance troupe, along with a Chingay display.
Local artists also enlivened the night with their melodic performances.
Face masks were also handed out to the crowd.
Earlier in the day, there was a cooking demonstration and preparation of the "nian gao" and kuih bahulu.
Interactive workshops in calligraphy writing, paper cutting and stone art were also conducted.