Asia Briefs: Malaysia sees sharp fall in tourist numbers

Malaysia sees sharp fall in tourist numbers

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's tourist arrivals as well as the number of people travelling outward have fallen sharply.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents president Hamzah Rahmat yesterday said there has been a 30 per cent drop in the past six months.

"This is very rare in the Malaysian tourism industry. We hope the situation will stabilise soon," he said at a press conference.

Mr Hamzah said there were many factors that influenced the drop, including the introduction of a Goods and Service Tax, the soft world and local economy, and the uncertain political situation.


Myanmar repatriates rescued Bangladeshis

YANGON • Myanmar has returned 159 Bangladeshi migrants rescued from boats stranded off its coast in May, officials said yesterday, the latest group so far to be repatriated after a migration crisis that unfurled across South-east Asia.

More than 800 men, women and children were picked up from vessels abandoned by smugglers in the Bay of Bengal in recent months, after Thailand's crackdown on people trafficking led gang bosses to abandon their human cargo on land and at sea.

It sparked a long verification process between Myanmar and Bangladesh to determine the nationality of the migrants, with neither side showing a willingness to accept them at first.


Jakarta to allow more cattle imports

JAKARTA • Indonesia will issue permits to import 50,000 more cattle, the government said, after beef prices soared and butchers went on strike following a decision to drastically reduce shipments from Australia.

Chief Economics Minister Sofyan Djalil announced the increase late on Monday, although he did not say when the cattle would be imported.

"I have given consent for the state logistics agency to import 50,000 live cattle," he told reporters, adding that it was a "short-term" measure.

He did not say where they would come from, but much of Indonesia's beef is shipped from Australia.


HK police arrest five Uber drivers

HONG KONG • Police in Hong Kong have arrested five drivers from Uber in a sting operation and searched its office, media reports said yesterday, in the latest blow to the global ride-sharing start-up.

The drivers are alleged to have been providing their services through Uber.

They were held for "illegally driving a car for rental purpose and driving without third-party insurance".

News footage from Cable Television showed police raiding an office which displayed an Uber logo and taking away three people.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2015, with the headline 'AsiaBriefs'. Subscribe