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Malaysia introduces measures to prevent immigration abuses at entry points

CNA – Malaysia’s Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail announced a slate of new measures that will be introduced at the country’s entry points following an incident of alleged corruption towards a traveller at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

From now, only senior officers of the Immigration Department who hold a grade of KP41 and above will have the authority to determine if a traveller should be imposed with a “Not to Land” (NTL) order, he said during a press conference.

This is a change from the current practice which allows junior officers holding a grade of KP29 to decide if a traveller should be denied entry. Saifuddin also announced that officers who can communicate in foreign languages will be stationed at help desks to aid travellers facing any language barriers, adding that the help desks will be placed in the near future.

“We will have a help desk that will appoint… an officer who can communicate in foreign languages, especially Mandarin, English, Arabic (and) Tamil,” he said.

Another measure to be introduced is the installation of more signage informing travellers about the questions that they will be asked as they approach the immigration counters, he said.

File photo of Kuala Lumpur International Airport. PHOTO: AFP

“So a clearer picture of this shows that if such restrictions are imposed, there must be a reason to it,” he said.

Saifuddin also said that Transport Minister Anthony Loke had been asked during a Cabinet meeting earlier to examine the handling of travellers who have been given an NTL order.

He explained that travellers charged with an NTL order are managed by Mono Circle, a private company appointed by the Airline Operators Company (AOC). Since February 2015, Mono Circle has been handling the meals, drinks, and tickets of such travellers to depart from Malaysia, he said.

“Earlier, … the minister of transport (was asked) to look at this aspect again. Is this a normal practice or what?

“This (practice) causes confusion because when a person who is subject to NTL is asked to provide a certain amount of money for the purpose of buying a ticket, sometimes… it is mistaken as an immigration officer asking for money,” said Saifuddin.

According to Free Malaysia Today, the transport minister confirmed on Thursday that the private company is being investigated. Loke reportedly said that representatives from the ministry and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) have been meeting with AOC.

“We have to find out from the AOC about the contract period and terms they agreed to … Action will only be taken once we have received all the details,” he reportedly said.

Last Thursday, a local news portal reported that a commotion occurred at KLIA, when a Malaysian minister allegedly attempted to “rescue” a female tourist who was denied entry into the country.