KUCHING, Feb 25 — Sarawak has agreed today to bear the cost of putting up Immigration counters and installing closed circuit TVs (CCTVs) at the Kuching International Airport, to monitor international passengers going through the domestic arrivals gate to enter the state.
Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg said the state government has agreed to step in as the Immigration Department is short on funds.
“We want the counters and CCTVs in place as soon as possible as we do not want people from outside to enter Sarawak without their passports being stamped or their stay unmonitored,” he told Malay Mail Online after attending a Chinese New Year dinner hosted by the Federation of Kuching Division Community Associations here last night.
He said the Immigration officers will be stationed at the counters to stamp the passports of the international travellers while the CCTVs will be used to monitor their movements.
“But, of course, it is illegal for them to use the domestic arrivals gate where there are no Immigration counters are available to stamp their passports,” he added, referring to a statement by Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali.
Two days ago, 40 international travellers were arrested for trying to enter Sarawak by using their domestic boarding passes to exit from the domestic arrival gate.
Mustafar had said the international travellers were found to have in their possession both the international and domestic boarding passes when they were detained while trying to go through the domestic arrivals gate to exit the Kuching International Airport terminal building last week.
The director- general had said that the 40 foreigners, whose countries of origin have not been disclosed, were detained at the Immigration depot at Simunja Camp in Serian Division while investigation was being conducted to determine the motives of coming to Sarawak.
Abang Johari said the state government is aware that international passengers have been using the domestic boarding passes to go through the domestic arrivals gate when entering the state.
“These happenings have been going on for many years,” he said.
Abang Johari, who is also the state tourism minister, said the problems arise when international passengers, on transit to Kuching after landing at the Sibu and Miri airports, are issued with domestic boarding passes.
“When they fly to Kuching from Sibu or Miri on domestic flights, they are naturally issued with the domestic boarding passes but at the same time, they are also possessing international boarding passes,” he said.
He said these passengers should have gone to the international arrivals gates if their passports have not been stamped at the Sibu or Miri airports, but instead they go through the domestic arrivals gate to exit the Kuching airport terminal.
The chief minister said foreigners could pose a threat to the state’s security if they can enter Sarawak without any background check.
Source: Malay Mail