Wednesday, 4 October 2023

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Politicians and associations back Malaysian tourism minister Tiong over KLIA’s incident

MALAYSIA – The recent spot check by Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) ought to be praised instead of criticised, said Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) secretary Alan Ling.

Ling believed Tiong had no personal agenda when making the visit to the airport upon learning of the difficulties faced by a China tourist in entering Malaysia.

“I trust Tiong must have reason to personally drop by in his attempt to discover what happened to the tourist, who was said to be denied entry or queried.

“Every minister, deputy minister and top government servant must ‘turun padang’ (go to the ground) frequently — even without prior notice — so that they can see the real situation at the location.

“Don’t plan an official visit where everything is well presented, then your visit will serve no purpose except for formality,” Ling said in a report by the Borneo Post Online.

Ling said as far as he knew, those from China must first get their visa approved before coming into Malaysia, as Malaysia does not practise Visa on Arrival for China tourists, except for those holding diplomatic passports or having Apec Business Travel Card.

“An immigration officer is the first person most tourists meet upon stepping into the arrival hall. Thus, they must be friendly and conduct verification ethically, professionally and without prejudice against any foreign national,” he added.

Ling also said that the Home Ministry needed to pay more attention to Immigration Department personnel in airports and all checkpoints, to make sure that there were no “hanky-panky activities” which could tarnish the country’s image.

He also proposed that a revised standard operating procedure (SOP) be adopted in overcoming all the negativity and bad perception cast on the Immigration Department, especially in services rendered to tourists at borders and checkpoints.

Tiong’s political party reprimanded Umno Youth chief

Meanwhile, Sarawak-based political party, Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) Youth, said yesterday that unfair for Umno Youth chief Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh to question the recent actions of Tiong without knowing the full facts of what transpired at KLIA recently.

The party’s chief David Yeo Ang Lim said that if Dr Akmal had looked into the incident, he would have known it was about recurring issues of abuse of power allegedly committed by Immigration officers.

“Does he suggest that we just turn a blind eye and pretend nothing is happening?” Yeo asked in a Facebook statement in support of Tiong, who is PDP president, to demand that Dr Akmal apologise over his accusation against the minister.

Yeo questioned why the spotlight was on Tiong, who had exposed the abuse of power, but not on the problems at KLIA that had been tarnishing the country’s image for years.

Yeo said it was not the first time that Tiong had laid bare the abuse of power allegedly committed at KLIA.

“The Immigration Department clearly has several questions to answer,” he said, pointing out that the inability of a female Chinese national to get a Mandarin interpreter assigned to her from multilingual Malaysia was laughable.

“Where are the trained interpreters? And what of the allegations of demands of unreasonable fees or has the department determined the fees are not illegal in nature?”

He was appalled that political figures such as Dr Akmal would make baseless accusations against Tiong for political mileage without knowing the facts.

“If he believes in the unity government, he needs to withdraw his remarks and apologise to the federal minister,” Yeo said.

The KLIA incident is not an isolated incident, said association

The Malaysia-China Friendship and Mutual Aid Association (MCFAMAA) showed appreciation to Tiong’s outspokenness on rectifying “the negative image of the Immigration Department”.

The association’s advisor Datuk Seri Michael Chong, said they would fully cooperate with Tiong to assist in the investigation related to the incident involving two Chinese tourists and the Immigration Department.

In a statement, Chong said a similar incident had occurred on May 17 when the Federation of Commercial Photographic Society Malaysia (FCPS) invited 12 representatives from the China Portrait Photography Society to Malaysia.

The statement said the society’s vice-president was held by the Immigration Department without reason and those that came on the tour with him had to wait at the airport for nearly three hours.

The matter was later resolved after Chong contacted Immigration on behalf of FCPS, the statement said, emphasising that no fees were paid.

MCFAMAA president Ee Kah Fuk, who is also the representative lawyer for the Chinese Embassy, added that the embassy was very concerned and had received instructions to provide relevant assistance to handle similar incidents.

“The association also welcomes foreign tourists to Malaysia for tourism and will help all Chinese in Malaysia, whether they come for tourism or business,” it said.

Hoteliers lauded Tiong for calling out corruption within the Immigration Department

Meanwhile, The Malaysia Budget & Business Hotel Association (MyBHA) said recently that Tiong’s action at KLIA would boost tourists’ confidence in visiting the country.

MyBHA national president Ganesh Michiel said Tiong was acting within his jurisdiction in the incident and urged the relevant agencies to take immediate action against the minister’s allegation of corruption against immigration officials at the airport.

“As a tourism minister, he is responsible to ensure that the country’s tourism industry recovers and his actions will give a positive image and raise the confidence level of foreign tourists to visit Malaysia,” he said in a statement.

Voicing his support for Tiong, Michiel said the Immigration Department should always have a welcoming attitude towards foreign tourists arriving in Malaysia.

The tourism industry is one of the main contributors to the nation’s economy, he said, and efforts must be made to preserve the country’s image and prevent it from being damaged.

“We call on the relevant parties to immediately investigate and take appropriate action against any individual with bad intentions who are involved in actions that would tarnish the image of the ministry,” he said.

It was reported by a news portal Thursday (June 29) night that a Cabinet Minister had barged into the arrival hall at KLIA and created a commotion in an attempt to “free” a Chinese national who has prohibited entry into Malaysia.

The news site also alleged that the minister had entered the restricted zone at the airport without a permit or pass.

Tiong has since come forward to confirm that he was the minister in question, but said he was only there to help an employee of a China-based media company after she was allegedly held up by immigration officers.

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