WITH the growing number of foreign students in the country, Malaysia has become a popular destination for international students pursuing tertiary education.
The authorities must ensure that all students comply with student visa rules from the beginning. Failure to do so could mean that they are a threat to national security.
The threat could be worse if the students are involved in high profile crimes, such as drug trafficking and firearms smuggling.
What is even more worrying is their involvement in the spread of Daesh (a term used in most Arab states to refer to the Islamic State or ISIS) militant activities to local communities, especially youth.
Last month, police detained seven people believed to be involved in terrorist activities in several locations. Two of the foreigners involved were students from a private college in Selangor.
The government has taken various initiatives to deal with the issue, including the Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) system to track down the activities of international students while they are in the country.
However, this system will not succeed if private colleges are focused on merely making profits. Some are even willing to falsify documents on student enrolment.
Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the government must come up with improvements on the EMGS by incorporating a biometric attendance system for university students.
He said that the Pepatih MySekolah aplication, an innovative monitoring system for students which was adopted in some schools in Kuala Lumpur and Malacca, may prove to be useful in keeping tabs on the activities of foreign students.
He explained that the technology was far more advanced and currently used by parents to monitor their children.
All they had to do was to download the application to their smartphones to check on their children and their attendance at school, Lee added.
“By using the same biometric technology, the authorities will be able to monitor activities involving foreign students, who may be a threat to the country,” he said.
Lee said the system should be implemented in all institutions of higher learning especially those that register international students.
“Most international students are here for an objective – to study and earn a degree.”
“But there are some who come into the country with devious intentions.
“It is for such ‘students’ that we need to take precationary measures as they can threaten our national security," he added.
Lee's views were shared by Islamic Studies and Political Science lecturer at the International Islamic University Malaysia, Dr Ahmad El Muhammady. He said the implementation of the system would help single out suspicious students.
“We are not only facing internal security threats, but also external threats (from overseas) ... if they can infiltrate our national security on a student's ticket, this means they are able to breach into our security system.
“For now, the students may only be involved in commercial and narcotic crimes. But it is also possible for them to spread Daesh propaganda by influencing the local communities especially youth,” Dr Ahmad said.
He added that international students have helped bring economic growth to the country. Students from other countries should be encouraged to study in Malaysia since it is a regional education hub.
However, there must be intensive screening to ensure only genuine students are granted visas to study here, he said. – Bernama
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