PETALING JAYA: Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing says he had to personally step in to help an employee of a China-based media company after she was allegedly held up by immigration officers at KL International Airport (KLIA) on arrival from Shenzhen on Thursday (June 29).
The woman had alleged that although her travel documents were in order, she was denied entry by Immigration officers.
She alleged that she was asked to pay several thousand ringgit if she wanted to be allowed entry.
The woman had arrived in Malaysia with her superior, a senior official of a Chinese government-owned TV station.
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It is learnt that while her superior was cleared and allowed entry by the Immigration Department, the woman who is the senior official's personal assistant was denied entry and allegedly told there were discrepancies in her travel documents.
When contacted by The Star on Friday (June 30), Tiong said the station official called up the Consulate General of Malaysia in Guangzhou and sought help upon seeing her colleague in distress.
"I received a call from a staff member of the Consulate General's office who related what allegedly happened.
"I contacted the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and together with its officers, we went over to KLIA at 3pm to investigate. I met and spoke to both the vistors and Immigration officers on duty," he said.
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Tiong said the Immigration officers told him that, as there was a language barrier, the matter was a misunderstanding between them and the China nationals.
He said the women, believed to be in their 40s, also had their cellphones seized by the Immigration officers.
"What powers do they have to seize their phones? It was their first trip to Malaysia. The two women told me that they have never run into such problems in other countries.
“They are appalled by the incident, which has caused them great embarrassment.
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"They have recorded all the conversations that transpired with the airport officials and intend to expose their unpleasant experience when they return to China,” he told The Star.
He said after he intervened, the personal assistant was later allowed to enter the country.
Tiong said he learnt that the TV station official had come to Malaysia to pursue her PhD at a local university in Shah Alam and her personal assistant had accompanied her.
Tiong said it was not the first time he had shown up at the KLIA to resolve such issues.
"Thursday's incident was the fifth time I had gone to intervene on such matters. Also, claims that I did not have a pass to enter the arrival zone is untrue as I do have one which is valid until next year," he said.
Tiong said if there was a language barrier with Chinese travellers, the Immigration Department should engage translators who are employed by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB).
He said he was puzzled why the Immigration Department did not engage the translators although they had been advised to do so in the past.
It was reported by a news portal Thursday night that a Cabinet minister had barged into the arrival hall at KLIA on Thursday and created a commotion in an attempt to "free" a Chinese national who was prohibited entry into Malaysia.
The news site also alleged that the minister had entered the restricted zone at the airport without a permit or pass.