One-year old viralised video is still relevant in the context of ‘graft busting’ KLIA incident

DESPITE efforts by Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to pacify and uphold the dignity and integrity of the Immigration Department, complaints are starting to emerge again on social media.

If not careful, one would think that these are new incidents which happened just immediately after Anwar’s visit to the Immigration checkpoints at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

For example, a video clip which has gone viral on social media is edited from the original video which appeared on “Ken Abroad”, a German full-time traveller’s Youtube channel which brags of 222,000 subscribers.

The video from which the complaint was taken has been viewed by 119,000 people around the world since it was uploaded a year ago.

After waiting an hour in a long queue, the German traveller claimed that he was denied entry into the country. He spent another hour at the immigration office before an immigration officer came to see him.

The officer browsed through every page of his passport and asked him what he was doing in each of the countries he had visited. After he told them that he was a travel journalist, the immigration officer finally decided to give him a 90-day visa.

He described the ordeal as “the toughest entry into any country” that he had ever been. As if to rub salt into the wound, he noticed towards the end of the video that he might had difficulties looking for his luggage after the two-hour long wait to get clearance at the immigration checkpoint.

Why the video was edited and going viral now is unknown but most probably it is just trying to focus on the complaint in view of the recent KLIA incident where Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing ‘raided’ and exposed alleged corrupt practices by immigration officers.

As frontliners, immigration officers must realise that their actions can create a negative image of the country.

Denying entry for any undesirable individuals from entering the country is understandable but keeping them for hours is unacceptable just like the long queue at the checkpoints but for whatever the reasons may be, word of mouth spreads fast especially these days with the advent of social media.

Based on his other videos, it was the least of the German traveller’s intention to badmouth Malaysia to his viewers although the channel claims to showcase “the real sides of each country and stuff like that”.

He wants his viewers to experience the country from “a more authentic local point of view.”

Although Ken Abroad’s bad experience happened last year, the truth is there needs to be a thorough revamp in the way how immigration personnel are handling international guests as the country’s frontliners which obviously would be of concern to any tourism minister.

The presence of middle agents in the restricted zone or the very existence of the special “Lane 41” certainly raises the red flags. This is where the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will hopefully get to the bottom of it all.

The president of the Malaysian Tourist Guides Council Jimmy Leong Wie Kong has called for investigation on various unscrupulous activities that were ongoing at the KLIA checkpoints.

“We often hear that going through our Immigration entry points, especially at KLIA, was likened to ‘going through hell’,” he lamented in a statement.

Another video has also gone viral showing a Chinese tourist complaining that he was unable to leave the KLIA “from 2.15 yesterday”. It is not clear whether he had meant 2.15am or 2.15pm.

He claimed that despite paying RM250 for the food, nothing was delivered to him and another visitor from Hong Kong. Because the video was undated, it cannot be immediately established if it was a recent incident.

However, the fact that such incidents had happened at the KLIA is something that can no longer be denied for one bad experience is enough to cause the word of mouth to spread faster than wildfire.

Anwar may just be very discreet in the way he handles the problem but we believe he is fully aware of what is happening.

He is neither defensive nor is he trying to sweep it under the carpet, but he has repeatedly instructed the MACC to take stern actions against a few “bad apples” so that it will send a chill down the spine of other government agencies.

Reckoning that it was unfair to make random accusations or to link the entire department to corrupt practices, Anwar’s deputy Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has acknowledged the existence of “bad apples” that needed to be eradicated – not only at the Immigration Department but also the National Registration Department (JPN).

“We should not make random accusations. In this matter, what is important is the effectiveness of the measures taken by the two departments,” the former home minister told the media after chairing the National Action Council on Cost of Living (NACCOL) implementation monitoring committee yesterday (July 4).

“This ‘bad apple’ does exist and has always existed, and sometimes one bad apple spoils the barrel.”

Following Zahid’s remarks, Immigration director-general Datuk Ruslin Jusoh reiterated yesterday (July 4) that any officer found to be involved in corruption or power abuse would be subjected to stern action at the departmental level according to the existing legal provisions.

However, if there are allegations of corruption, the investigation process should at best be managed by the graft busters — the MACC. – July 5, 2023.

Main pic credit: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Facebook

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