No repeat of China tourist blunders: Liew
Published on: Saturday, January 19, 2019

Kota Kinabalu: Corrective measures are being undertaken by Malaysia Airports to prevent further incidences of Chinese tourists missing the immigration counters without having their passports endorsed upon arrival from mainland China.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew was happy that action was now being taken in view of the anticipated influx of more than 50,000 tourists from China alone in the coming Chinese New Year festivity.

“From Feb 1 onwards, the new layout for passenger flow at the transborder of Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) will be implemented to facilitate mobility and avert ‘sneak-through’ passengers.

“The proper procedure for arrivals from China (on transit to a domestic destination in Sabah) is to make a right turn to go to the domestic area for their passports to be endorsed at the Immigration Counter (Level 2) after coming down from the escalator (Level 3). 

The glass sliding door, which is now on auto mode, will be manually opened by aviation security personnel.

“After their passports are stamped, the passengers will proceed to the Security Checkpoint for screening before going to the domestic level transit counter (Level 2) if they are heading to Tawau, Sandakan or any other domestic destination within Sabah,” she said after chairing a post-Cabinet meeting this week.

Liew, who is also Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, was briefed on the measures for improvement of facilities and services by Malaysia Airports KKIA Airport Manager, Sunif Naiman, and Assistant Deputy Director of Immigration, Radiansah Lasaeho.

Sunif said only two transit counters will be manned as usual, given an average of only about 200 transit passengers per day from international to domestic travel and vice versa.

“From Feb 1, we will position 24-hour immigration personnel at the transit counters, and likewise, 24-hour aviation security personnel at the security checkpoint. This move is to prevent the incidence of ‘sneak-through’ passengers based on our CCTV footage.

“The other two adjacent transit counters will be unmanned but to prevent any ‘sneak-through’ by passengers, we will install a glass wall (to serve as a barricade),” he explained, adding that the unmanned counters will be removed at a later stage.

According to the Airport Manager, most of the “sneak-through” cases that had occurred in 2017 and 2018 involved passengers travelling from an international port of origin (example China) to a domestic destination in Sabah (example Tawau).

Sunif also informed the Minister that the refurbishment of male and female toilets (Level 3) will be completed by March 14. 

“For now, airport users (including visitors and tourists) will have to use the toilets on the ground floor and at Level 2.”

On Liew’s concern about having additional manpower on the Customs side, he said this matter will be highlighted at the forthcoming Airport Facilitation Meeting. 

“Before Chinese New Year, we will inform all stakeholders on what should be done. Hopefully, we can tackle all these problems,” he said.

Meanwhile, Radiansah assured the Minister that more immigration counters will be opened to cater to the foreseeable increase of travellers during the Chinese New Year season.

Currently, there are 20 immigration counters at KKIA for arrival (10 for international passengers and 10 for domestic passengers), and another 20 counters for departure (10 for international passengers and 10 for domestic passengers).

“After 1am (that is, the last flight from KL), we will open all the arrival counters (20) for handling all international passengers. However, maybe 17 or 18 will be operational as the computer system is down sometimes or personnel are on leave,” he said.

Also present at the meeting were Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Assaffal P. Alian, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry, William Baya, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Mariam Omar Matusin and Sabah Tourism Board General Manager, Suzaini Datuk Sabdin Ghani.



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