Thursday, May 10, 2007

Excellence Holiday Directors on the Run

The Wisma Excellence building on Jalan Padang, off Jalan Imbi.
The Wisma Excellence building on Jalan Padang, off Jalan Imbi.

The directors of tour and travel firm Excellence Holidays Sdn Bhd, which went bust recently, are believed to be on the run.

Chan Kean Mun and Chong Suk Yen, who were formerly husband and wife, are believed to have fled the country with at least RM500,000 which were proceeds from the sales of tickets and travel packages during the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) fair in March.

Chan is believed to be in hiding in China with his girlfriend, while the whereabouts of Chong could not be confirmed.

Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim said the two were believed to have planned the whole thing.

"I think they are on the run, I tried calling them but could not reach them," he said at a press conference following a meeting with Matta officials on the matter yesterday.
Excellence Holidays, which had a paid-up capital of RM1.3 million, was incorporated in 1985 and recorded RM74 million in turnover in 2005.

It was considered one of the major players in the country’s tour and travel industry.

However, things began to turn sour after the Matta fair in March.

More than 90 customers, who had bought their tickets and travel packages to Europe at the fair, claimed they were told hours before their scheduled departure that their trips had been cancelled.

They were in for a bigger shock when they read in the newspapers that the company had gone bust and that the directors were on the run.

Most of them have lodged police reports and formal complaints with the ministry, Matta and also the Consumers Tribunal.

Lim said that the licence given by the Ministry to Excellence Holiday would be immediately revoked under the Travel Agency Act 1992.

Chan and Chong are also blacklisted and banned from operating another travel agency.

When the New Straits Times called Chong’s mobile number, a man, who claimed to be her friend, answered the call.

Refusing to give his name, he said Chong was still in the country.

"She is not on the run and she is still in the country.

"If she was running away, she would have switched off her phone, but she gave the phone to me to speak on her behalf.

"Right now, she is very depressed and may have to seek treatment.

"All of it is her ex-husband’s fault and she is just an innocent victim.

"She also told me that she had resigned as a company director when she divorced Chan on Jan 16," he said.

However, Lim told reporters that he believed Chong had also fled the country.

Lim said such an incident involving a high-profile company should not have taken place, especially during Visit Malaysia Year 2007.

"We will make sure that this does not happen again," he said.

He also said that the ministry would appeal to Bank Negara to reconsider a proposal made earlier requiring travel agencies to have insurance to protect them in case they go bust.

"With such a policy, customers will be able to get their money back," he said, adding that the ministry would look at tightening the laws to ensure that only reliable agents were allowed to operate.

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Source : NST
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