1 July 2023
All Cabinet members have security passes enabling them to enter restricted areas at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), Transport Minister Anthony Loke said today.
Loke explained that the issue of security protocol breaches does not arise as ministers are allowed entry into such areas even though they are not scheduled for flight boarding.
His comment comes after Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing was alleged to have breached safety protocols when the latter “forcibly” entered the immigration counters unauthorised in his attempt to assist a Chinese national who had been detained by immigration officials.
“Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad had also confirmed that the minister (Tiong) was at the airport and he was accompanied by auxiliary police officers and security personnel from the company when he entered and left.
“As far as the security pass is concerned, there is no issue here as he can access the area.
“I was at the airport yesterday, not to board a flight but for a flight launch. I entered the restricted area like the departure hall and such,” he was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini at a DAP event in Seremban earlier.
Tiong had issued a statement yesterday explaining that he was in the KLIA arrival hall on a work visit and had a valid pass at that time.
Explaining what had happened, Tiong said the female tourist had been detained without being told why, and that problems arose when the foreign tourist and Immigration officers had trouble communicating with each other.
Tiong claimed that the tourist was said to have complete documents, but their communication failure resulted in the Immigration authorities being unable to obtain the necessary documents from the tourist.
In his statement, the Bintulu MP also claimed to have been told that there were Immigration officers who allegedly asked for money in order to release detained foreign tourists, claiming that there were some who allegedly asked for up to RM3,000 to be released from detention including for the flight ticket to return to the country of origin.
He claimed that an additional RM3,000 was sought if the tourist wanted to return to the country of origin immediately using a “special lane”, and RM12,000 was allegedly sought as the cost for visa processing.
Tiong later said he was grateful that his presence at the airport has now exposed the alleged existence of corruption among certain officers and alleged chronic abuse of powers at Malaysia’s entry points.
Separately, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) confirmed today it has commenced investigation into allegations of corruption against immigration officers raised by Tiong.
Affirming the matter, chief commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki, urged the public to refrain from speculation.
“Regarding allegations of corruption by the tourism, arts and culture minister, MACC will investigate the matter.
“We will obtain information from all parties and investigate accordingly.
“Therefore, we urge the public not to sensationalise or speculate on this matter,” Azam was quoted as saying by the news portal.
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