|Monday, March 27, 2017

Tourism affected by court of public opinion 

Taiwanese woman KLIA2

By CY Ming

OUR Immigration officers are likely to be given the benefit of the doubt in a recent allegation by a Taiwanese woman denied entry into Malaysia at KLIA2.

But the court of public opinion is likely to swing should another accusation of ill-treatment is made against them by a foreigner, which is likely to happen if no changes are made.

Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali maintained that the standard operating procedures (SOP) were followed.

Nearly 1.5 million passengers pass through Kuala Lumpur International Airport each month. Every day, between 10 and 100 are denied entry under the Not To Land (NTL) order. .

For the first two months of this year, 3,592 people were slapped with NTL order, an average of 60 per day.

Airlines that have flown in these passengers are required to send them back, taking care of their food and welfare while in detention.

The reason for denying entry to the Taiwanese woman was clear and do not require further explanation, as her passport was damaged.

But her allegation of ill-treatment should be addressed. Was it true that she was asked to pay RM1,000 for early release? We may never know and I hope it was not.

Was the detention centre dark, crowded and filthy, with no doors for the toilet and she had to sleep on the floor?

Whether those denied entry are undesirable elements or for technical reasons, we ought to treat them in a humane manner.

If a few hundred people can be held up in the airport detention centre, then it must be designed for the capacity and have adequate facilities for their basic needs.

If not, our immigration officers following SOP may have the law on their side but would lose in the court of public opinion, and our tourism industry would suffer.

Fortunately, the complaint by the Taiwanese woman was an isolated incident, as 22,222 people would be held up at KLIA this year, going by the rate of the first two months.

*The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Times (TMT).