Politicians have made plenty of eyebrow-raising comments over the years, but this Malaysian politician has drawn flak for suggesting that a natural disaster can be turned into an opportunity.
In an interview with Malaysian news outlet Sinar Daily that is quoted in the Star last Saturday (June 18), Nazri Aziz suggested that Kelantan’s annual floods can become a tourist attraction since it is “like a festival”.
“If you know it is coming, then start planning now,” the former tourism, arts and culture minister said, adding that foreign visitors can “buy tickets” to help in relief efforts during a flood.
Describing how such “volunteer tourism” can bolster the economy, Nazri said: “When our currency falls, it’s time for us to promote tourism for the country because it is cheap for them.
“Singaporeans will come because they spend only one-third of their salary and to them, our five- or six-star hotels are just so cheap.”
After causing over six million ringgit (S$1.9 million) in damages, the floods in Malaysia over the past year were described by government officials as a “once-every-100-years” weather event, Reuters reported in May.
But those affected criticised the government’s response to the floods while environmental groups called for laws to cut climate changing emissions.
After Nazri’s comments were widely shared on social media, netizens poured cold water over the idea that life-threatening natural disasters can be turned into a money-making opportunity.
Perhaps to drive certain political agendas, several politicians in Malaysia were caught making rather bizarre comments in recent years.
Last March, a politician from Johor Bahru was roasted online after he claimed that Singapore would have been more developed if it was governed by the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) instead.
And in October last year, a lawmaker suggested that Timah, a Malaysian whiskey brand, should change their name to “The Mines” to avoid painting women in a bad light, The Star reported.
Describing that the name Timah is often associated as a woman’s name, Rusnah Aluai said at that time: “So when we drink the whiskey, it’s like drinking a Malay woman.”