“Those pages were torn by Japanese customs when they tried to rip off tax free forms
stapled in my passport. Because of that, Malaysian customs officers gave me a hard time, escorting me to an office before confiscating my passport and mobile phone,” Chiao Mei wrote.
She claimed that a male officer also demanded money from her, adding that her refusal to comply resulted in her being locked up for 35 hours before she was finally deported to Taiwan.
Citing as examples of what she called the Malaysian customs’ inhumane treatment of tourists, Chiao Mai said another Taiwanese woman was also detained because she mistakenly showed customs officers the plane ticket from her previous trip to Malaysia, while a Vietnamese woman was slapped in the face by an official over a minor incident.
MOFA to the rescue!
In response, the ministry said it is part of the standard procedures for Malaysian customs to put tourists who are denied entry in a holding lounge if they cannot board a flight back home on the day of their arrival.
“Nearly 1.5 million passengers pass through Kuala Lumpur International Airport each month. Among them, as many as between 10 and 100 are denied entry every day,” the ministry said, adding that the Malaysian customs’ handling of Chiao Mei was standard procedure rather than personal.
It urged the public to check for any damage to their passport before traveling to avoid being refused admission at the point of entry.
Oh, maybe not then.
Dato’ Seri Tiong King Sing, the Malaysian prime minister’s special envoy to East Asia, yesterday said on Facebook that Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was furious after hearing about the incident because it could damage the nation’s image and hurt the tourism industry.
He issued a directive for an investigation into the case.
The Taiwanese traveler should not have been detained and should not have had her mobile phone and other belongings confiscated because she was not a criminal, Tiong said, adding that customs officers should not treat passengers from any nations in such an inhumane manner.
In this case, customs officers should have let the Taiwanese woman telephone a friend in Malaysia, contact Taiwan’s representative office or have arranged for her to return to Taiwan as soon as possible, he said.
Moral of the story:
- When traveling to Japan, carry a staple remover.
- When traveling to Malaysia, carry an extra phone with a special envoy’s number on it.