Can we just leave it to MACC to get to the bottom of the Tourism Minister’s graft busting raid?

WHETHER the infamous “Lane 41” at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) only exists in the imagination of Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing or otherwise, it is perhaps best to leave the matter to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate.

This is because over-politicising the issue can be detrimental to the ‘water face’ (image) of the unity government with the fiery opposition been handed free load of political capital to undermine the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional (PH-BN) alliance in the upcoming six state polls slated for next month.

For the uninitiated, “Lane 41” was coined by the “Thick As A Brick” blog to refer to the special immigration lane at the KLIA where transactions are settled between agents and tourists/travellers to smoothen the travelling process of NTL (not to land) category visitors.

As a case in point – whether his argument holds water or otherwise – Sik MP Ahmad Tarmizi Sulaiman was featured in HarakahDaily condemning the recent storming of his Bintulu counterpart (Tiong) into the arrival hall at Terminal One of the KLIA as “a bad example of a madani government minister who is seen abusing his ministerial power”.

“This kind of action is very disgusting for it creates bad prejudice and interferes with the duties of a civil servant and more so when he accused the existence of corruption there,” Tarmizi was quoted as saying by the PAS mouthpiece.

As it is, the Election Commission (EC) will hold a special meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) to discuss important dates for the six state elections.

The meeting followed the receipt of notices of the official dissolution of the Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, Penang, Selangor and Negri Sembilan state assemblies from their respective state assembly speakers, according to EC secretary Datuk Ikmalrudin Ishak.

“The special meeting will be chaired by EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Salleh who will discuss the important dates for the state elections such as the date of the election writ, nomination day, polling day, the electoral roll to be used and other preparations,” he said in a statement yesterday (July 3).

With a police report already lodged by Immigration Department assistant enforcement officer Syahmi Syafie Md Nazmil who claimed Tiong has given him an earful by threatening to demote him for refusing entry to the Chinese national woman traveller, an investigation is now underway to ascertain if Tiong’s action is warranted or justified.

At this juncture, what is clear is that the woman traveller identified as Wang Xu was denied entry in accordance with procedure and the “Permanent Instruction of the Director-General of Immigration No. 09 of 2017”.

Considering that the immigration authorities are in denial of incidences of corruption (despite industry players claiming that such practice has been on-going for a long while), it seems that the commotion can only be resolved by one party taking charge.

Or perhaps a joint task force comprising the relevant ministries and government agencies can be set up with the MACC spearheading such initiative to ascertain if the allegations by Tiong is true with stern action to be taken against errant immigration officers for smearing both the good name of the government department and the country.

While the unity government must get to the bottom of the matter soonest before it sparks more controversies of cover-ups, it must leave no stone unturned in the matter. Either way, the outcome of the final findings will prove whether Tiong deserves praises for his heroics or indeed he is the villain. – July 4, 2023

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