PETALING JAYA: A Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) leader has defended tourism, arts and culture minister Tiong King Sing over an incident in KLIA Terminal 1 and the latter’s allegations on corrupt activities involving the immigration department.
Sarawak PH secretary Alan Ling said he believed Tiong had no personal agenda when going to the airport upon learning of the difficulties faced by a Chinese national who was trying to enter the country, Borneo Post reported.
“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 as a mere formality,” he was quoted as saying.
Ling, who is also state DAP secretary, said he understood too, that all Chinese nationals must obtain their visa before coming into Malaysia, as they do not qualify for the visa-on-arrival facility.
“An immigration officer is usually the first person foreigners meet after landing at the airport. Thus, these officers must be friendly and behave ethically when verifying the visitors documents. It should be done professionally and without prejudice against any foreign national,” he said.
Ling called for the home ministry to ensure immigration department personnel in airports and all checkpoints are not involved in activities that could tarnish the country’s image.
He also proposed that a revised SOP be adopted in overcoming all the negativity and bad perception cast on the department, especially in dealing with tourists at borders and checkpoints.
“The immigration department should accept the discovery and revelation by the minister (Tiong) openly and conduct a self-evaluation, besides listening to the concerns raised by the general public,” he said.
On Friday, Tiong made allegations of a culture of corruption involving the immigration department with demands of RM3,000 for releasing detained travelers and an additional RM3,000 for immediate return to their home country.
Yesterday, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission was reported to have said that it will meet Tiong today over his claims of corruption among immigration officers at KLIA Terminal 1.
Last night, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim conducted a “surprise” visit to the airport to check on the immigration and customs services.