2 July 2023
Operations at Malaysia’s entry points can be improved, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said in a Facebook post on Sunday.
His comments came after he made a surprise visit to the Immigration and Customs counters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
“I found there is room for improvement to strengthen operations at the country’s entry points,” he said.
Mr Anwar said he also took the opportunity to witness first-hand the issues or problems arising during daily operations involving tourists and foreigners as well as Malaysians.
In addition, he addressed a recent incident involving a Chinese tourist and allegations of corruption at KLIA.
Mr Anwar said a thorough investigation would be conducted and the matter brought up in the upcoming Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
On Saturday, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief comissioner Azam Baki said a probe will be launched into the incident.
“We will get information from all parties and investigate accordingly,” he said, adding that the public should not sensationalise or speculate on the matter.
An uproar erupted on Thursday when a Chinese national, who was detained on arrival at KLIA from Shenzhen, claimed she was denied entry by immigration officers unless she paid a sum of money.
Her travel companion, who is a senior official for a Chinese TV station, apparently did not face such a problem as she was cleared for entry.
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Tiong King Sing told The Star on Friday that he got a call from the Consulate General of Malaysia in Guangzhou about the predicament the woman was facing.
He went to KLIA that day when he was told by immigration officers that there had been a misunderstanding due to a language barrier.
In a statement later, Mr Tiong said the woman was given food only once throughout the 15 hours that she was detained.
According to the minister, the woman said an official at the airport had told her she could be released if she paid an RM18,000 (S$5,200) entry fee – RM3,000 to be released, in addition to RM3,000 for “re-entry” and RM12,000 for a “visa-processing fee”.
“I feel it is time that the MACC enter KLIA in a big way to investigate what transpired at the country’s main entry point,” he said.
He said the women, believed to be in their 40s, also had their cellphones seized by immigration officers.
“What powers do they have to seize their phones? It was their first trip to Malaysia. The two women told me they had never encountered such problems in other countries,” said the lawmaker for Bintulu in Sarawak.
“They are appalled by the incident, which has caused them great embarrassment. They have recorded all the conversations that transpired with airport officials and intended to expose their unpleasant experience when they returned to China.”
He said the woman was later allowed to enter the country after he intervened.
Mr Tiong’s office said on Saturday the minister would not comment further to allow other authorities to investigate the matter.
Immigration Department director-general Datuk Ruslin Jusoh said on Friday that an investigation had begun to find out “all aspects” of the incident.
The Chinese Embassy in Malaysia said on Friday that it would make every effort to ensure the rights and interests of its citizens are protected while they are on Malaysian soil.
It said it was investigating media reports about the problem faced by a Chinese national at KLIA.
A Malaysian news portal on Thursday night reported that a minister had “barged” into the arrival hall at KLIA, and created a commotion in an attempt to “free” a Chinese national who had been barred entry, while also alleging that the minister had entered the restricted zone at the airport without a permit or pass.
In Seremban on Saturday, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said he had received a report from Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) that cleared up the controversy involving the pass.
“MAHB has confirmed that the minister was at the airport, accompanied by auxiliary policemen and MAHB security personnel,” he said, adding that ministers have VIP passes to enter security areas at KLIA.
“As far as the security pass is concerned, there is no issue here as he can access the area,” he said.
He said ministers were allowed to access security areas even if they were not boarding a flight.
“As long as we (ministers) are there for official work, we can enter the area,” Mr Loke told reporters.
– THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Did you find what you are looking for? Try out the enhanced Google Search: