WASHINGTON: A slew of meetings with key US officials awaits Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as Malaysia seeks to deepen its ties with the United States amid security challenges posed by issues such as terrorism, human trafficking and illegal migration.
Muhyiddin arrived on Sunday in the US capital for a working visit here until tomorrow, before flying to New York for similar engagements with US officials there.
His itinerary saw him heading to the US Homeland Security headquarters for talks with acting US Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and a visit to the US Terrorist Screening Centre.
Muhyiddin was set to feature at a leadership forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he would share his views on Malaysia-US strategic relations.
His other programmes in Washington DC over the next few days include meeting US Ambassador for Trafficking in Persons John Cotton Richmond as well as senior officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Justice.
“The working visit is aimed at deepening bilateral ties between the US and Malaysia in the field of security, which have long been established between the two countries, ” he told Bernama ahead of visits to key US security institutions.
Muhyiddin pointed out that Malaysia had well-established ties with the FBI and CIA, with cooperation covering areas including information exchange, training and other capacity-building measures.
Such cooperation is needed as the country simply cannot let its guard down when it comes to terrorism as it strives to ensure its security agencies are equipped with the necessary tools, what with the threats posed by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State group (IS).
Malaysia’s vigilance and intelligence gathering enabled the Royal Malaysia Police to detain 495 people from 2013 to August this year for their involvement as members, recruiters, financiers or sympathisers with IS. The figure comprised 333 Malaysians and 162 foreigners.
With the security landscape producing more challenges of late, Muhyiddin believes Kuala Lumpur still has things to learn from the United States.
These include looking at how the United States uses technological advancements to manage terrorism, trafficking in persons, migration and others, he added.
Muhyiddin said his visit to the terrorist screening centre would allow him to get a closer look at how technology is used to identify terrorists or those possessing such inclination.
“This is in line with our proposed initiative to manage a new immigration system, which is currently being developed, ” he said.
In New York, Muhyiddin is expected to meet with New York Police Department officials to see whether Malaysia could adopt some of its crime prevention initiatives.
“In the space of a few days of my visit to the US, we hope to be able to strengthen ties between our security agencies and learn new things that may benefit us, ” Muhyiddin said of his visit which runs until Sept 21.
He is accompanied by his wife Puan Sri Norainee Abdul Rahman, Home Ministry officials as well as Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu.