SUNGAI PETANI: The Government has approved direct flights between Langkawi and Singapore which will take off soon.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said the move would boost Langkawi’s economy, especially the tourism sector.
“We will leave it to AirAsia to access the situation and decide on the number and frequency of the flights between the two destinations,” he told reporters after a dialogue with Chinese non-governmental organisations at the Federation of Sungai Petani Chinese Associations office here Saturday.
On March 7, 15 Chinese associations in Langkawi called on the Government to allow AirAsia to fly direct between Singapore and Langkawi to help the resort island weather the current economic storm.
Langkawi MCA division chief Datuk Chen Liau Weng, who handed over the request to Ong, said the direct flight was crucial because the Kedah government had not been promoting tourism.
Meanwhile, Ong, who is MCA president, said the Government was addressing the lack of Chinese schools in the country as well as the schools’ lack of funds.
He said seven new Chinese schools would be build while 13 existing schools would be relocated.
Ong said Chinese education was a major priority in the MCA leadership.
“Our new Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) had already allocated RM50mil to the schools nationwide to do the necessary repairs,” he said.
He said the MCA leadership would draw up strategies to address Independent Chinese schools’ problems, especially with funds and encouraged its students to apply for the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans when they further their studies.
He said the Finance Ministry had allocated RM95mil for 20 Chinese schools in Sungai Petani.
Ong also addressed several problems raised at the dialogue including high-risk insurance for lorry transport operators and vehicle inspection problems.
Among the grouses of local lorry transport operators was that there was only one company in Sungai Petani handling the insurance policy and the high insurance premium.
Ong said his ministry was discussing with insurance agencies under the General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM), lorry transport operator associations and other related bodies on the matter.
On their problems with Puspakom, he said the vehicle inspection body would not hold exclusive rights to inspect and certify commercial vehicles anymore in five years time, as decided by the Cabinet.
“Puspakom still has a contract with the Government. But in five years, other companies will be allowed into the picture to compete with Puspakom,” he said.