Five reasons why “barging” is a wrong word to associate Tourism Minister Tiong with

TOURISM, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing deserves not a reprimand but a word of appreciation from every netizen for acting in the interest of the country to woo its guests.

In this case, it is a tourist whose stay here in Malaysia that contributes to our country’s growth domestic product (GDP).

If immigration officers who are the frontliners are incapable to assist visitors to the country, they should not be allowed to be on the frontline. Worse is when they are trying to solicit kickbacks just because they think foreign travellers are easy preys.

This brings to mind this writer’s own bad experiences with the notoriety of immigration officers in Mozambique, Bangladesh and Indonesia (in the 1980s). Often, when they saw foreigners, cash machines appeared before their eyes.

Similar incidents never happened in Germany, Australia, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand (except Hat Yai), Vietnam, Sri Lanka, South Africa and even China. Even Indonesia has improved over the past two decades but why should Malaysia’s reputation continue to be tarnished by a few bad apples?

In our opinion, the Madani government should continue to do what is right – and move forward – while their critics crow till the morning.

Instead of allowing a few immigration officers to ruin the country’s image, all Malaysians should work at cleaning up the reputation of the country.

In this case, Tiong has taken the extra mile to help a tourist who was inconvenienced by the immigration officers.

At the time of writing, Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook has made it clear that Tiong as a Cabinet minister has the security pass which allows him to enter restricted areas at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

Therefore, “barging” is not the right word to use. It was used to create the perception that a minister had trespassed into the restrictive zone.

Why so?

Point 1: In this specific case, Tiong had received a request from the consulate-general in Guangzhou as there were already complaints about alleged harassment of tourists from China.

In his capacity as a special envoy to China previously, Tiong would have heard many such complaints in the past. Although this incident created a storm, Tiong did what needed to be done to get to the root of the problem.

For this reason, he has not abused his power as a minister.

Point 2: Understandably, Tiong would have been charged for “entering a restricted area” or “obstructing a public officer from carrying out his duty” if he were not a minister.

In Selangor, the state government and the Petaling Jaya City Council have yet to resolve the case of senior citizen Patrick Khoo who was charged under Section 186 of the Penal Code; the case management will be brought up again this Thursday (July 6).

But, in his capacity as the Tourism Minister, Tiong obviously has every reason to be given not only the access but the support to ensure his own safety when he was responding to a distress call.

The tourist from China was allegedly offered a “solution” provided she was willing to pay the kickback totalling RM18,000.

Because this case allegedly involves corruption, the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has responded well by saying that it will leave no stone unturned.

If found to be true, these officers involved in the “negotiation” – including the officer with the three pips – should face the long arm of the law.

Even if the investigation may not necessarily yield concrete evidence that can be produced in court, the officers should be placed under special probation if the MACC has sufficient reasons to believe the tourist was telling the truth,

Perhaps, it is time for immigration officers to put on their bodycam after this incident so that there can be no room for denials. In fact, it is a good practice to rotate the immigration officers so that they are under supervision by different senior officers from time to time.

Point 3: Any actions by a few bad apples in the Immigration will undoubtedly affect the country’s reputation. We believe there should not be any sensitivity between the ministers with regard to individual turfs. In this case, the customers come first.

Unless there are obvious breaches of law, any officer trying to be funny should face the disciplinary board.

Pic credit: Bernama

We can no longer tolerate officers who intentionally look for faults so that they could make life difficult for the tourists unless there is a kickback. Both are significant contributors to the country’s economic growth.

Tiong is the only minister to date who took the trouble to help tourists facing difficulties trying to enter into the country.

Point 4: Even in the corporate sector, there is a common understanding that if a manager finds a staff being rude to a customer, the manager has the obligation to immediately intervene.

Thereafter, a meeting would be convened so that the case can be briefed to the respective department head. If the staff is found to be in the wrong, disciplinary measure would be meted out against the staff depending on the seriousness of the case.

Point 5: In the US, state law enforcement agencies are state-based. Although they are not supposed to cross the borders to issue a summons on a speeding vehicle outside their state borders, they may receive back-up support from neighbouring state colleagues during a speed chase.

It is time for the Madani government to deal with corruption severely given such culture still persists despite numerous warnings. – July 2, 2023

Main pic credit: Bernama

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