Footwear saga: You unfairly humiliated me, Dewan Negara president tells Transport Minister

Yiswaree Palansamy

Tan Sri SA Vigneswaran speaks during a press conference at MIC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on May 23, 2018. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 — Dewan Negara president Tan Sri SA Vigneswaran today hit out at Transport Minister Anthony Loke, whom he claimed had unfairly humiliated him by accusing him of violating airport lounge rules.

He also claimed that there were no specific rules in the lounge’s dress code barring the use of slippers.

The MIC president told Malay Mail that he did not break any rules while accessing the special VIP lounge at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on November 14, when sending off his daughter.

He also questioned the need for a body search, as the sensor alarm did not trigger when he went through the body scanning machine.

“I walked through the sensor. My dear, has anyone body-searched you despite there not being any sound?  

“I then took the lift downstairs, went straight to the officer and asked: Madam, one can’t wear slippers here?

“Why I asked was because those going for hajj and umrah will usually wear slippers and go.

“There is also a surau in the VIP lounge. When they (Muslims) take the water to cleanse themselves (wuduk), they will wear slippers. So what’s wrong with using slippers?” Vigneswaran told Malay Mail when contacted.

“It is not the security who stopped me. It is this woman who was in charge of the lounge. I was not even using the VIP lounge. I was just using the lane,” he added.

Justifying his footwear, Vigneswaran said that he had a swollen foot, and that was why he wore slippers.

He also criticised Loke as merely wanting cheap publicity by publicly outing him, adding that his officer had also lodged a report with the Prime Minister’s Department, against the lounge management officer.

Vigneswaran also expressed disappointment that he was not contacted by Loke to have his side of the story heard, prior to the press conference today.

“How could you go so low and have no courtesy to call me and ask what was the story, or ask his officers to ask my officers?

“Anthony Loke wants cheap publicity. This is a very cheap publicity,” he added.

Earlier today, Loke called out Vigneswaran to publicly apologise for breaching protocols at the VIP lounge at the KLIA.

Loke claimed that Vigneswaran not only violated the mandatory dress code when accessing the premier lounge, but also rebuked on-duty staff who had explained the protocol, and also refused to be body-searched.

Additionally, Vigneswaran was accused of encroaching on the lounge after security personnel refused him the VIP access card, owing to the dress code violation.

Loke said that a report on the case would also be forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Department, to decide if Vigneswaran should be stripped of the privilege.

A security footage of the incident was also played to media members, with several staff who were on duty on that day who individually spoke about the incident.

The media were made to understand that Vigneswaran’s alleged misdemeanour, also violated the Protected Areas and Protected Places Act (Act 298).

Vigneswaran had also lodged a report against the lounge management staff. 

In a report sighted by Malay Mail, Vigneswaran’s officer, Suresh Ramasamy accused the lounge management staff of being someone who was not “smart enough to have handled the situation, which made it worse”.

He also claimed that there were no signboards at any place in the lounge, barring its users from wearing slippers in the lounge or at the VIP line.

Suresh also called for appropriate action to be taken against the staff as “it is the joint responsibility of us all to ensure that VIPs who qualify to use the special waiting room can continue to use the facility comfortably, while observing the existing rules.”

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