Minister says Tourism Malaysia D-G Ammar not sacked but demoted one rank due to underperformance

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 — Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board (Tourism Malaysia) director-general Datuk Ammar Abd Ghapar was not terminated from his position but given a demotion instead, Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said today.

The tourism, art and culture minister said Ammar’s performance to date had been less than satisfactory.

“Yes it’s true that he will retire in March next year. But for the good of the tourism industry, I cannot wait till next year to take action.

“Look, Thailand was able to get 10 million tourists from China alone, why did we get only 1.2 million?” Tiong was quoted as telling reporters at the National Craft Complex here this morning by Utusan Malaysia.

The minister reportedly said that Ammar had not come up with concrete plans to boost Malaysia’s foreign tourist numbers and had no engagement at the state level.

He related that he had pushed for the agency to boost its Chinese tourist arrivals to Malaysia to five million, but Ammar would give a lower target number of three million.

He added that this showed Ammar had not proven his capability despite having a doctorate in tourism.

He also denied that his action against Ammar amounted to power abuse.

Instead, Tiong was reported saying that he had only signed the letter and that internal action against Ammar was by Tourism Malaysia.

The minister said another Tourism Malaysia official had been identified as a potential successor to replace Ammar as director-general but Utusan Malaysia did not report if a name was given.

Ammar told Malay Mail that he had been removed as director-general of Tourism Malaysia when contacted yesterday, confirming that he was notified of the move in a letter from Tiong.

“The letter just says effective February 26, I am no longer the D-G. 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 said.

Ammar was appointed Tourism Malaysia director-general on April 12 last year and is due on February 17, 2025.

Prior to that, he was the senior director of Tourism Malaysia’s International Promotion Division (Americas, Europe and Oceania).

He has also served as the senior director of management, led the Strategic Planning Division as well as Tourism Malaysia’s Domestic and Events Division, and held significant roles such as the finance division director and foreign affairs director in Osaka, Japan, and Moscow, Russia, respectively, in 1999 and 2008.

Additionally, he served as the state director of Tourism Malaysia for Kedah/Perlis in 2005.

In 2021, Ammar led the Secretariat of the Travel Bubble Task Force, aimed at revitalising the tourism industry, which was heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.