Control will be tightened at VIP lanes in airports nationwide to prevent VIPs and politicians from abusing their privilege and smuggling items into the country.
- It was a common practice among VIPs and senior officials, who travelled on private jets, to smuggle cash into the country
- There were no Customs and Immigration officers at VIP lanes – Immigration matters handled by an officer for the VIP while Customs check-point is outside the VIP lane
- X-ray scanning machines would be placed at VIP lanes
- Officers will be stationed at the exit of the VIP lanes
Stricter checks, including inspections by the Customs and Immigration departments, will be carried out at VIP lanes at all airports in the country to ensure the facility is not abused, said Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook.
He said x-ray scanning machines would also be placed at VIP lanes at KLIA and KLia2 to prevent smuggling activities, especially of money into the country.
“Indeed, we know there are weaknesses and leakages at the VIP lanes and we have taken action, but we need cooperation from other agencies, and the ministry, together with Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd (MAHB), has discussed with the Immigration Department and the Customs Department to further tighten existing regulations by placing officers at VIP lanes.
“Currently, there are no Customs and Immigration officers at VIP lanes as Immigration matters are handled by an officer for the VIP concerned, while the Customs check-point is outside the VIP lane. So now, we will have officers stationed at the exit before they (VIP) leave the room,” he told the Dewan Rakyat today.
Loke was responding to a supplementary question from Pang Hok Liong (Labis-PH) on measures taken by the ministry to ensure cases, like smuggling of money into the country, as was reported to have happened before, would not happen again.
Pang was referring to a recent report claiming that an agency related to the former Prime Minister’s Department had brought in RM49 million through VIP lanes.
Last month, Datuk Shahul Hamid Abdul Rahim, the former head of Immigration operations at KLIA, confirmed that it was a common practice among VIPs and senior officials, who travelled on private jets, to smuggle cash into the country.
Any civilian bringing in more than RM41,000 must declare to the Customs Department and obtain permission from Bank Negara to bring in the cash.
However, leaders and VIPs can skip these steps entirely.
To a supplementary question from Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff (PAS-Rantau Panjang) on action taken against passengers who abused the VIP lane, Loke said no action was taken since Pakatan Harapan took over the federal government as there was no case of abuse.
“So, I call on the VIPs, including the Members of Parliament, to cooperate with the authorities at the airports. If there is a check or inspection, do not complain because it is a procedure and we have instructed that no one will be exempted. Whoever uses the special waiting room will also be required to go through checks according to procedure,” he added.
Loke said X-Ray scanning machines would also be placed at airports in stages beginning next year and passengers would no longer have to go through physical inspection.
Meanwhile, Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon also forwarded a question to Loke on whether checks for animals, like dogs, would also be carried out at international airports.
“This is a special question from the Deputy Speaker. I shall submit a written reply to the Deputy Speaker,” he said.