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Layang Layang blanks divers seeking refunds


Layang Layang (Storm Crypt)
Layang Layang (Storm Crypt)

For a long time one of Malaysia’s best-known scuba-diving attractions, the Layang Layang island resort is reported to have received a warning from the state authorities following its alleged failure to return deposits made by divers prevented from visiting the location during Covid lockdowns.

Diver Faisal Abdul Rahim has told news outlet SAYS that more than 100 individuals both from Malaysia and overseas had lodged 50% deposits with the resort but had failed to get their money returned – or to obtain any response. The facility is now officially closed, although its website does not appear to reflect that.

The six-hectare Layang Layang in Sabah, Borneo is surrounded by a 14sq km atoll dropping 2km on its outer fringes. Also known as Swallow Reef, the island lies about 300km north-west of Kota Kinabalu and has its own airfield. It was popular among guests who were able to dive with the hammerhead and reef sharks, manta rays, tuna and barracuda found in the area.

In common with many other resorts worldwide, Layang Layang was unable to operate during Covid lockdowns imposed by the government. “On 22 November, 2023, the resort issued a letter stating that its operating licence had not been granted, rendering it unable to operate, and declared that all deposits would not be refunded,” Rahim told SAYS. 

“In response to this situation, some affected parties sought legal counsel, while others pursued resolution through the Tribunal For Consumer Claims.”

The diver stated that the resort’s representatives had avoided all efforts made to serve claim documents at its office and that of the company secretary, as well as the director’s home address. Further documents had been sent by registered mail.

Tribunal hearing

Resort representatives were said to have attended a tribunal hearing in February, though according to Rahim they had failed to bring required documentation with them and were given one month to comply. When they failed to appear at the second hearing in March, the tribunal issued a notice for the company to return all deposited amounts.

“Despite our efforts, including waiting for them at the TTPM Kuala Lumpur office and sending emails and making calls, we have received no response,” said Rahim. “Our resources are exhausted, and legal assistance is not readily available for this TTPM case.”

Describing the resort’s actions as “unlawful and unethical”, he stated: “Our objective is to inform both Malaysian and non-Malaysian scuba divers that the resort is no longer operating, despite its website still accepting bookings.

“We urge all affected individuals to file claims with TTPM to ensure lawful protection for consumers against irresponsible companies that tarnish Malaysia's reputation.”

SAYS said it had yet to receive a response from the Layang Layang resort. Scuba Diver has also asked it for comment but received no reply.

Also read: Top 5 Diving Destinations in Malaysia, Magnificent Malaysia

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