KOTA KINABALU, May 17, 2014: "China tourists and businessmen will again come to Sabah, which is friendly, offers the best tourist destinations at most affordable prices and nearest to China", said ex-Chief Minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee in a statement here today.
Yong observed that China is a rising power which attracts suspicions among other nations, saying that China cannot run away from the stark reality that she needs friends.
"China's neighbours are displaying anything from cold shoulder to outright hostility towards China over maritime claims and history. China's out-bound visitors face an increasingly angry Philippines, a hostile Japan and now anti-China mobs in Vietnam targeting ordinary Chinese. Another popular destination, Thailand is beset with political violence. These are all risky countries for China tourists and business people," said Yong adding that the recent mass protests at Taiwan against further assimilation into the China economy show the uneasiness among Taiwanese towards mainland China.
"Therefore, realistically, China visitors in search of safe and friendly destinations will look to Malaysia or Bali (Indonesia) and Singapore.
Yong also urges the Sabah Malaysia-China Friendship Association (MaZhong), Malaysia-China Business Council in Sabah and other social bodies with links to China to prove their worth because the situation in both Malaysia and China warrants more people-to-people exchanges to rebuild the set-backs caused to Malaysia by the MH370 issue and negative publicity of cross border abductions of Chinese nationals in Sabah.
"Mazhong, for instance, tried to project a strong presence in Sabah by staging a cultural show in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of Malaysia-China relations during the Chinese New Year," said Yong. "But Mazhong should not only be hosting cultural shows which, in any case, have been organised by other organisations. Mazhong and Malaysia-China bodies should show their relevance by building confidence among the China public towards Malaysia, especially Sabah. In terms of tourism, investment and bilateral trade, people-to-people linkages are crucial," said Yong who is also an advisor to several Sabah-based social bodies with links to China.
"Ever since 1974, Malaysia has been the best friend of China in South East Asia. The rare MH370 tragedy will fade into the background against the international news of other disasters like the Korea ferry sinking, the Nigeria school girls kidnapping, the Turkey coal mine explosion and other major international incidents" concluded Yong who is also Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President.