Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Council to supervise Sabah diving industry

KOTA KINABALU: The Ministry of Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment plans to set up a council, in a smart public-private partnership move, to facilitate the supervision of the diving industry.

Its minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun, said the permanent secretary to the ministry, Datuk Michael Emban, has been tasked with preparing the draft for the setting up of the council to be presented to the cabinet.

“The function of the council is to coordinate various issues that are related to the diving industry, and to ensure closer cooperation between the industry and the government,” he said.

Masidi continued to say that the council will also play an important role to ensure that if and when there was a need for diving operators to employ foreign divers, these foreign divers would comply with the regulatory requirements, professionalism and expertise determined by the council through the associations.

“Eventually, we would like this council to be a one-stop centre for Sabah to recommend any application for new licence on operating a dive centre,” Masidi said.

He said this after a consultative meeting with members of the Semporna Resort Operators Association (SROA) led by its president, Robert Lo, here yesterday.

Masidi said SROA had voiced out several proposals on how to improve the operations of the industry which the ministry had accepted.

Besides agreeing to the setting up of the council, Masidi also reported that a proposal for the industry was to have stringent enforcement for divers, foreign divers and dive masters who may want to work in Sabah.

He said the ministry was considering all diving associations to become members of the council to ensure the smooth running of the industry, in effort to better regulate the industry for its sustainability in the future.

Masidi stressed that it was important for the industry to be well regulated to ensure its sustainability, particularly when the industry is doing well at the moment.

“We believe that we are the destination of choice for diving in this part of the world. To maintain that attraction, the only way forward is to make ourselves better; that’s what the council is for,” he said, adding that the council was not just about supervision, but also to impart tips and advice for improvement.

Masidi pointed out that the SROA had aired on the shortage of Chinese-speaking dive masters which was affecting the operators’ business, and the association had proposed that the government allowed the industry to employ diver masters from China.

The proposed council would then play a role in determining the professionalism and conditions that would allow the employment of foreign dive masters.