IPOH, April 19 — DAP’s Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham should stop confusing the public about Perak’s Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS) if he is unclear about its financial situation, Umno’s Datuk Mohammad Zahir Abdul Khalid said today.
Zahir who is the caretaker state executive councillor for industry, investments and development said the state government has explained that that the investment returns for theme parks take time.
“The losses we suffered in 2016 were pre-operational losses, because the park hadn’t even opened yet. But the visitor traffic is good now and we are confident of recouping the losses.
“The theme park industry need a seven to 10 year period of intensive investment and it is the same for other theme parks anywhere else ,” he told a press conference at MAPS here.
In a press conference yesterday, Ngeh claimed that the park had lost over RM24 million in 2016, and was expected to lose the same amount in the future due to low visitor numbers.
Ngeh reportedly said the state did not to care about the problems, likening caretaker Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir to Roman emperor Nero who fiddled while Rome burned.
The incumbent Sitiawan assemblyman was also reported asking if the park was facing problems after one of its shareholders Daya Sejahtera Sdn Bhd (DSSB) reportedly received a liquidation order from the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.
Ngeh claimed DSSB held 70 per cent of shares in RSG MAPS Sdn Bhd, which in turn held 49 per cent of the shares in Animation Theme Park Sdn Bhd (ATP), the company that built MAPS.
However, Zahir clarified that DSSB only held 5.6 per cent of shares in RSG Maps which in turn owned 34.3 per cent of shares in ATP.
“DSSB effectively owns 1.9 per cent of shares in MAPS, and their liquidation doesn’t affect the theme park at all,” Zahir said.
“Ngeh also claimed that this involved the people’s money. But in reality not 1 sen of public funds was used to build MAPS.
“Ngeh seems to be haunted by this issue, and I pity him. If I meet him, I’ll invite him to come to the park himself and relax,” Zahir said.
MAPS chief operating officer Mohd Farid Abdul Aziz who was also at the news conference today said the park had welcomed 222,750 visitors since opening in June 2017.
In March alone, Farid said an average of 1,077 people visited the park every day, much higher than the 200 daily visitors previously claimed by DAP.
Zahir pointed out that the park had also impacted the surrounding Meru area by bringing in business for surrounding restaurants, budget hotels, and shops.
“In fact, the price of land has gone up from RM 30 per square foot to RM 135 per square foot, and it is because of MAPS,”he said.