By Carol Leong
IT was reported that the Chinese embassy in Indonesia has accused local customs officials of targeting Chinese tourists and demanding they give them illicit “tips” at border controls.
The accusation is serious, coming from the embassy and not from individual tourists. Some Chinese tourists said Indonesian border officials made them pay tips ranging from 100 yuan to 300 yuan.
In 1979, I entered Thailand through the Rantau Panjang checkpoint and was told to tip immigration officers, which was standard practice for all passing through.
The amount was small, either RM1 or RM2. I had forgotten about it until reading the news report, which stated that Chinese tourists also faced similar problems in Vietnam and Cambodia.
I am happy there had been no reports of our Customs officers preying on tourists. With smartphones and social media, it would be difficult for enforcement officers to get away with their transgressions, especially with foreign tourists.
In 1990, I learned that duties collected from passengers at Subang airport for the entire year was less than what was collected in a day from the cargo section.
Since them, I understood why our Customs officers concentrated on the cargo section at various checkpoints and kept a watchful eye on people trying to bring in or out contrabands.
When our Customs officers are not mentioned in news and social media, it is good news indeed.
In any case, both our Customs and Immigration officers ought to treat Chinese tourists carefully.
We cannot afford to have controversies that could derail our target to bring in four million China visitors this year.
*The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Times (TMT).