The Home Ministry can ensure bona fide tourists and foreign students come here without hassle without sacrificing national security needs.
By TK Chua
There is a saying I learned from the TV series, “Yes Minister” back in the 1980s. It went like this: “If the government is incapable of doing anything worthwhile, what it needs to do is to go on talking about it”.
This is what I gathered when I read the headline: “Security overrides economic concerns” in FMT today.
It is as if whenever we want to do something, something else must give. In this case, if we want to tighten security checks at our border points, we must sacrifice economic gains.
Seriously, I do not accept this line of argument. Since when is our national security subservient to other considerations? Are we actually saying because we want more tourist money and higher foreign student enrolment, we must ease on immigration checks?
I do not think the Home Ministry should be apologetic when addressing Malaysia’s security concerns. I do not think the Tourism Ministry or the Higher Education Ministry should ever insist that their commercial and economic considerations be ranked higher than national security issues.
We learn from news reports that there has been security lapses at immigration points. I really hope the Home Ministry is not trying to find an excuse for its lackadaisical performance by equating it to promoting tourism and higher education.
It should be noted that “facilitating” tourism and higher foreign student enrolment is not compromising immigration laws and security checks.
Sometimes we use excuses for our inability to do a good job. On the other hand, sometimes we impose unnecessary difficulties on tourists and foreign students in the name of national security when our problem is inefficiency or corruption.
If there is a will, there is a way. I believe the Home Ministry can ensure bona fide tourists and foreign students enter the country hassle-free without sacrificing on national security needs.
National security involves pre-entry, at the entry points and post-entry checks, especially on foreign students. We need hard surveillance work, not eloquent excuses.
TK Chua is an FMT reader.
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