Posts Tagged ‘permits’

In 1983 Borneo Divers began their dive trips to Sipadan, the secret oceanic paradise was discovered by Ron Holland of Borneo Divers. Subsequently, Ron Holland brought underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau and made a movie “Borneo: Ghost of the Sea Turtle” and documented Sipadan’s beauty and lush marine life, bringing the island international fame.

Sipadan is considered as one of the most beautiful scuba diving spots in the world. Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia where the huge pillar that forms the atoll functions as a shelter for many sea animals and fish. There are only a few places in the world that have such a concentration of sea turtles.

Sipadan ever since has been a money making machine for few dive operator in Semporna over the years. It is estimated that diving business in Sipadan is RM300 million a year.

Selected dive operators allowed to operate at Sipadan were given quotas on number of diver per company.

In the past before GE14, 12 operators were given a total of 120 permits per day. The number of permits given depended on the size of their operation.

Recently after Warisan took over the Sabah State Government, such quota and allowable number of divers and dive company to enter Sipadan has increased. 12 new additional operators have been given permits, each given 6 permits for Sipadan.

The number of permits for old operators were reduced now and the total of permits now per day for the whole of Sipadan is increased to 176. New operators each gets 6 permits per day.

The new operators have been offering their permit for sale to travel agents and to existing operators for (depending on season) RM800 – RM1,200 per permit. For example, the rate a new operator Peter Khoo is offering is Rm1,000.00 each permit/day, he doesn’t have resort, boats, dive equipments, just an Alibaba business. Considering that they pay to Sabah Parks RM140/person/day, the new operators are making lots of money as they do not have resorts, boats or dive equipments. They started business only on 1st May 2019. 4 of them have no MOCAT license. One is a RM2 company operating from Kota Kinabalu.

And what Shafie Apdal did was to reduce the number of permits of the existing dive companies and redistributed the permits to the new 12 operators.

So, there’s 12 new operators now, before this 12 came into the picture the total permits were 126 per day, now 176.

Who exactly makes such huge decision on permits for Sipadan diving? While some say it’s Sabah Parks, some say its Chief Minister, often people don’t realise that the lead agency in such decision making is Majlis Keselamatan Negara (MKN)

Why does a federal agency under the Prime Minister’s Department responsible for managing and coordinating the implementation of policies related to the security of Malaysia makes decision on who gets the quota to operate at Sipadan?

Shouldn’t they just stick to security and shouldn’t there be a special committee on quotas and who gets it lead by the Sabah State Government, since Sipadan and its wealth belongs to the state?

I’m told, and I find it weird that even the Sabah Minister of Tourism is not invited and is not part of the meeting on the quota decision making.

Why is our minister kept in the dark by MKN?

Some even start questioning, why some quotas given to West Malaysian. Shouldn’t it be given to or prioritize to Sabahan operators?

Anyway, more than one million tourists visited Sabah from January to May this year, the state government had set a target for four million tourist arrivals this year, compared to 3.8 million last year. Tourism is big business in Sabah!