Malaysia: Officers Among 100 Being Probed for Sabotage of Immigration Program

Hata Wahari
2016.05.26
Kuala Lumpur
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160526-MY-immigration-sabotage-620.jpg A Malaysian woman looks out at a Malaysia Airlines plane parked on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Feb. 25, 2016.
AFP

Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET on 2016-05-26

Malaysian immigration officers are among some 100 people being investigated for alleged involvement in sabotaging a system designed to improve immigration services, government investigators announced Thursday following a three-month probe at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Some of the people suspected of sabotaging the program known as the Malaysian Immigration System (MyIMMs) over the last six years were in police custody, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters Thursday, according to the Bernama state news agency.

“Investigations showed the sabotage involved immigration support and middle-class officers and no high-level officials were involved,” Zahid said.

“The officers were working in cohort with the syndicate for financial rewards. Let me reiterate that we will not protect anyone who has committed such wrongdoings,” he said, adding, “In fact, we want action be taken against them.”

Intelligence gathered by police and the Malaysian Immigration Department (JIM) revealed that the syndicate had taken part in activities breaching departmental procedures over the past six months to two years through leaking data, which included code numbers, Bernama quoted Zahid as saying.

The announcement came amid the recent arrests in Thailand of two non-Malaysian people who were taken into custody for allegedly traveling on fake Malaysian passports.

Sabotage began in 2010

Without going into detail about the scope of the sabotage or how it occurred, Immigration Department Director General Sakib Kusmi revealed that it began six years ago.

“Let the police investigate first. When it is completed, we will find the answer,” Sakib told BenarNews.

An immediate crackdown was needed because of the depth of the sabotage, Sakib told Bernama. Immigration officers will face stern action including dismissal if they are found to have participated in the scheme, he said.

Zahid told Bernama that the investigation had focused on the Kuala Lumpur airport, but other entry points into the country would be investigated as well.

On Tuesday, a task force headed by Home Ministry Secretary-General Alwi Ibrahim was formed to investigate weaknesses in the immigration system.

Released on May 17, the Auditor General's Report for 2015 stated that MyIMMs, which was set up to streamline and improve Malaysia’s immigration services, was not functioning satisfactorily.

The report cited the example of how a biometric facility valued at 10.3 million ringgits (U.S. $2.5 million), and which was designed to screen and identify foreigners as well Malaysians at the country’s entry points, had not been installed and was not being used.

The country’s immigration and passport system made news on Wednesday when a Chinese citizen was detained at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok while allegedly trying to use a fake Malaysian passport. Wang Jianghua, who was arrested by Thai immigration police, admitted paying U.S. $6,000 to buy a fake passport over the Internet, according to reports.

His arrest followed an incident on May 14 when a Sri Lankan national was arrested at Chiang Mai Airport while allegedly traveling with a fake Malaysian passport. Investigators determined that the passport belonged to a Malaysian woman.

Ahmad Najmi Nasruddin contributed to this report.

An earlier version gave a wrong date for the publication of the Auditor General's Report.

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