PUTRAJAYA: The authority to impose a “Not to Land” (NTL) order on a traveller will now rest on a more senior Immigration Department officer, holding the grade KP41 and above, says Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.
This, he said, was among the proposals to improve services at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) following an incident involving a Chinese tourist recently.
“The Cabinet has agreed for several measures to be put in place for better governance,” he said, adding that currently, the decision to issue an NTL notice is made by junior officers holding the grade KP29.
“Not to Land” means a traveller has been denied entry into a country by Immigration authorities.
Among the reasons why a traveller is issued with the notice is because the person does not possess a return ticket, proof of sufficient money to finance their stay in a country, or an address of stay.
Saifuddin said that this was standard practice by the Immigration authorities, including those of other countries.
“The reason why these questions are asked is to prevent travellers who enter via a social pass from seeking employment while here,” he said in a press conference yesterday.
He added that the Cabinet had also asked the Transport Minister to review the role of a company that managed travellers with an NTL order.
He said the company, which was appointed by the Airline Operators Committee (AOC) in February 2015, would look into the needs of NTL travellers, such as their meals, and obtain tickets for them to depart.
“There are instances when the company asking for money from a traveller to buy their return ticket is wrongly perceived as the Immigration Department asking for it,” he added.
He said between January and June this year, 592,490 Chinese tourists had entered Malaysia.
Those who were imposed the NTL numbered 423 people, or 0.07%, compared to those who were allowed entry, he added.
Saifuddin said another initiative to be put in place was for officers well versed in other languages to be stationed at the KLIA to address communication problems between travellers and the authorities.
He said the officers, who could communicate in Mandarin, Tamil, English and Arabic, would be assigned there soon.
“This is part of the improvement that we have planned so that the services provided will be better and to clear any misunderstanding caused by communication issues,” he added.
Saifuddin said the recent incident at KLIA was discussed at the Cabinet meeting, which took the matter seriously.
“Despite what had happened, the Cabinet acknowledged the strong commitment, cooperation and good discipline among the majority of Immigration officers at the airport.
“If not for their commitment, there will be problems managing the large number of arrivals,” he said.
Saifuddin said the ministry would leave it to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate the incident and would extend its full cooperation.
A traveller from China had alleged that she was held up by Immigration officers at KLIA on arrival from Shenzen on June 29.
She claimed that despite her travel documents being in order, she was denied entry by the officers.
She also alleged that she was asked to pay several thousand ringgit if she wanted to be allowed entry.
Tourism, Culture and Arts Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing had to step in to help the woman, who is an employee of a China-based media company.
The MACC has begun its investigation into the case and recorded statements from Tiong, the woman, a witness, as well as four Immigration officers from KLIA on Monday.
Its chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki, in a press conference yesterday, told reporters that the individual “assisting” foreign tourists facing problems is believed to be from a company tasked with handling passengers issued the NTL notices there.
This was because the phone number contacted by the Chinese tourist to “assist” her in entering Malaysia was believed to be from the said company, he added.
“It is obvious. Anyone stopped from entering the country will be given a phone number to call and assistance to buy flight tickets and more,” he said, adding the company would also be investigated.
“Their responsibilities are to handle passengers issued NTL notices, where they buy them flight tickets, meals and more.
“Hence, we need to find out if the amounts requested are legitimate or illegitimate. Illegitimate here refers to corruption,” he said.
He said 41 NTL notices were also issued on the day of the incident, including one for the Chinese tourist involved.
The “agent”, Azam added, was believed to be a foreigner.
“The sum requested comprised so-called flight tickets and administration fees.
“We are investigating this and are tracking the agent down,” he said.