KK airport immigration counters must be more prominent, says Sabah Deputy CM after tourists enter without clearance

Julia Chan
Passengers waiting for the flights at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport. — AFP pic

KOTA KINABALU, Jan 11 ― The Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) will reconfigure its passage way for international passengers transiting to domestic flights after several incidents of  Chinese tourists entering the country without immigration clearance.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said that there was urgency to reposition the route to be as clear as possible to avoid any more incidents that has even resulted in tourists being sent to detention centres by mistake.

“We want to reposition the route as soon as possible for passengers once they arrive at the airport to ensure that they don’t miss the immigration stamp.

“Chinese New Year, or Spring season is coming up, and we are anticipating an increase in Chinese tourists from last year’s 80,000 so we want to make sure no such confusion occurs,” she told reporters after a visit to the airport here today.

She was accompanied by Chinese Consul-General Liang Caide, Malaysia Airports KKIA manager Sunip Naiman and Immigration Department officers.

“After today’s visit, I’m pleased that we may have found a way to resolve this, and we have submitted a proposal to ensure the entry and exit is clear for tourists, especially Chinese nationals who may not understand the signage,” she said.

Liang said that there has been eight such cases in the last two months, involving 22 Chinese nationals.

“Out of this, six cases, involved 16 tourists that were detained between one to two weeks,” he said.

“The main reason for the confusion is that tourists bypass the immigration counters at one of the intersections and head straight for their domestic flight through an open door without being asked to clear immigration,” he said.

“We hope that with the latest action, this will not happen again.”

Late last month, it was reported that four Chinese nationals, including one who was pregnant, were detained at the Temporary Detention Centre in Menggatal after they were found with no entry stamps on their passports before their departure to Hong Kong.

The four were about to leave for Hong Kong via the Kota Kinabalu International Airport when their passports were found to be without the entry stamps. They had entered via Hong Kong and took a flight to Tawau but did not go through the immigration desk and had no entry stamp in their passport.

Meanwhile, Liew also said that they will be resuming the Electronic Travel Registration & Informatics (eNTRI) this year.

“We confirm that we have restarted the programme, beginning January 1, 2019, until December 31, 2019, we hope this will boost out tourism numbers,” she said.

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