The new chairman of Malaysia Association of Hotels (MAH) Sarawak Chapter, Keith W. Pointer barely a week into the job – already – awaiting him are two pressing problems – unlicensed budget hotel operators and the acute labor shortage face by the industry.

Keith W. Pointer, CEO of Destiny Properties, Bintulu.

For the first problem Keith said he was advocating compliance but on the latter – only the government can help him.

“There was suggestion for the unlicensed operators to open up their doors, have the inspections, put things right that were wrong and move on,” he told the Star.

According to Pointer, compliance was important because it was purely about safety and safeguarding the interest of the industry.

“If there was an incident, if it should have been somebody in there that was tourist, or whatever it would have dreadful, negative impacts to the business,” he stressed.

“Because the last thing  want in this industry, is a mishap of whatever source and somebody end up not to be very well or to the point of dying.

Asked what caused the non-compliance, Pointer said: “I don’t know, I’m talking outside looking in. You put people on your properties and take money from them and you have to make sure they are safe.”

Pointer who is the chief executive officer of Destiny Properties, the owner of New World Suites and ParkCity Mall in Bintulu, said MAH would be too happy to help unlicensed operators with their applications to become legitimate.

“I want no part of your business, but if you need help because you are not sure how, contact MAH Sarawak Chapter and we are willing to help you.”

On the labor shortage, which he described as ‘critical’  Pointer said MAH has appealed to the government to relax quota on import of foreign labor.

He said MAH had in fact met the Human Resources Minister on the issue.

Pointer said what the government must realize was that that skilled labor was increasingly scarcer because thousand of Malaysians were lured by high paying jobs elsewhere.

Like it or not Malaysian hotels have to look to Indonesia or the Philippines for labor.

Pointer said, the problem will going to be worst for the tourism industry, as Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) pick up.

“They going to need engineers, technicians, food and beverage staffs because they’ve got canteens and plants down there that need people fix their pipe, do wiring put light in,” he said.

This story was also published by the Sarawak Star (printed version) Friday, 17, 2011.