Hotelier rebuts MAH chief, says authorities specified RM150 per room repeatedly

Yiswaree Palansamy
·4-min read
A general view of the low-risk Covid-19 quarantine and treatment centre at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang April 3, 2020.  — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
A general view of the low-risk Covid-19 quarantine and treatment centre at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang April 3, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 — A hotelier today rebutted the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) president who said hotels used as quarantine stations for returning Malaysians were not told the government was only subsidising stays at RM150 per room night.

Aariana Hospitality International Sdn Bhd president and chief executive Reginald T Pereira told Malay Mail he was contacted several times by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry to confirm if his hotel, Tanjung Rhu Resort, was keen in participating as one of the quarantine stations with a government subsidy of RM150 per room night.

Aaariana Hopitality International manages Tanjung Rhu Resort in Langkawi, Kedah.

“Well actually, we were approached towards the end of last month by the Tourism Ministry. Sent out a notice alerting us that they are looking at hotels to become quarantine centres as well. Basically to help with all the Malaysians who are overseas and came back.

“So they asked us to reply back whether we would be interested to participate, so we responded that we are willing to participate at that time, and we of course also provided what was our best rate at that time,” said Reginald, who is also the former chief executive of MAH.

Reginald said ministry officials then contacted his hotel and stated that the rate approved by the government for per night’s stay in hotels is RM150, and to confirm if Tanjung Rhu Resort would still like to be part of the initiative.

“So again, I am speaking on behalf of the resort I’m managing, we said that yes, we will still participate because this is more of a corporate social responsibility that is for the nation. We want to help in whatever way we can,” he said, adding that the unoccupied hotel rooms in Tanjung Rhu Resort, could be better used as a quarantine facility.

Reginald said that the ministry had in fact called his hotel “few times” to reconfirm their willingness to join at the stated subsidy rate.

“And I said yes! It’s not about the rate, it’s not about making money. It’s about doing what we can for the nation. As simple as that,” he added.

Reginald said that he had also contacted an officer from the ministry, who had confirmed that all hotels which indicated their interest to become quarantine stations, were contacted personally by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, and were informed about the RM150 subsidy.

Earlier, MAH chief executive Yap Lip Seng said that his association was not aware the government would not be paying the full charges for rooms used to quarantine returning Malaysians during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Free Malaysia Today (FMT) quoted him saying that hoteliers were under the impression that rooms used would be fully paid for by the government, and not merely subsidised at RM150 per room.

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had announced earlier today, that the government would only subsidise up to RM150 per room for three-star hotels and below, and those who seek luxury accommodations must foot the bills themselves.

Yap said hotels that allow their premises to be used as quarantine stations have already agreed to charge a “very low rate”, which he said is to be paid for by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.

He reportedly said that most hotels had also agreed to a standard fee to be paid for boarding, for the sake of the nation and as corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Yap refused to divulge details of the amount, the report said.

FMT reported Sabah Health Minister Frankie Poon as expressing confusion over who would be paying for the rooms at three hotels in the state.

Poon reportedly said that his office was seeking a response from the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) on the matter.

FMT reported Deputy Health Minister I Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali saying that the selection of the hotels was made by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry together with Nadma.

The MAH issued a statement later to dispute the FMT report, saying the association and its members were aware of the rate, which was accepted by participating hotels.

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