Are Malaysian airports secure enough?


PETALING JAYA: Festive seasons are often the best time to see just how packed Malaysian airports can be.

Travellers, made up of different races, religions and nationalities, fill the space at the country’s international airports, which have also become a shopping hub.

However, with threats posed by terrorist organisations such as Islamic State (IS), how secure can one be of their safety when visiting these airports?

Criminologist Dr P Sundramoorthy said while the security level at Malaysian airports is “good”, more is needed to be done to keep up to international standards.

This is especially so as terror groups’ often aim to cause a maximum number of human casualties, resulting in as much impact and damage as possible, he added.

What better location to achieve that than international airports?

“It happens to be one of the priority targets for terror groups due to the high volume and diverse mixture of visitors.

“You don’t only have locals there, but international travellers as well,” said the Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) associate professor and member of the Research Team on Crime & Policing.

He told FMT that at Beijing’s airport, for example, visitors were subjected to random search at the entrance itself, not to mention other extremely stringent security measures already in place.

Malaysia’s measures pale in comparison, calling for an urgent need to have better systems in place, he said.

“Anyone can enter our airports at the moment. While we are good, with recent IS threats issued against our country recently, we have to be more stringent.

“And our measures should not be limited only to passengers. It should also include blue-collar workers employed at the airports, including foreign workers, who are often in charge of cleaning and manual labour.

“Compared with the 1980s, when Malaysia always had stringent measures in place, over the last few years our security level has not improved to reach a standard that is acceptable by security and safety experts.”

Airport security came into question following the series of terrorist attacks taking place worldwide.

In March, 32 people were killed by terrorists in Belgium in a simultaneous attack on a metro station and airport. IS had since claimed responsibility for the incident.

Last Tuesday, three men entered and killed 44 people at Turkey’s Ataturk International Airport in a suicide bombing and shooting attack.