Loke said he called out Vigneswaran, who allegedly breached security protocols while using the VIP lane at KLIA, to send a message that officers should not fear VIPs when conducting their duty and that he was prepared to stand up for them.
Dewan Negara president SA Vigneswaran today announced that he was taking legal action against Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook, saying his privacy was violated when a CCTV clip of him was revealed to the media to show that he broke rules for the VIP section at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
“He is a minister, and not an opposition MP or investigation officer,” Vigneswaran, who is also MIC president, told reporters in Parliament today.
He said Loke had no right to accuse him of trespassing when he was allegedly stopped for violating house rules at the airport’s VIP lane.
He said Loke had also breached rules by making public a CCTV recording of him at the airport, adding that his children who were with him had also been dragged into the controversy.
Vigneswaran said he was taking legal action in his personal capacity to protect his family members, and that Loke would likewise be named as defendant in his personal capacity and not a minister.
He said the CCTV recording that Loke revealed to the media had triggered negative reactions.
Vigneswaran said he was unfairly put on “trial by the media”, while his family members were ridiculed on social media following the incident.
“Is this the new law which does not need the courts to come up with a guilty verdict?” he asked.
“Vulgar comments were made on social media. As a politician and even as the Senate president, I can accept all that and it is up to him.
“But if you insult my daughter and wife who have nothing to do with this, as a father did he not consider about this after the video was uploaded in the social media.
“I will sue Loke. He used Malaysian Airports Holding Berhad (MAHB) to come out with the video. It is an attempt to embarrass me as the Dewan Negara president,” he said.
Vigneswaran claimed Loke has embarrassed his wife and his daughter.
“Why is Loke acting as if he is a judge and making his own decision on whether I am guilty of any offence.
“I will defend the sanctity of my family and will let the court decide,” he said.
At a separate press conference in Parliament, Loke said he would let the police investigate on the security breach incident at the airport.
“Actually I have no intention of prolonging this issue, neither do I want any publicity from it.
“But since a police report has been made, let the police carry out their duties, I will wait for the full report of the investigation,” he said.
On Sunday (Nov 18), Loke said a police report had been lodged by the airport’s management and the ministry would wait for the full report from the investigation.
In the Nov 14 incident at 10.40pm, officers stationed at the VIP lanes stopped Vigneswaran for not adhering to proper dress code and for going through the VIP lane without undergoing security checks.
Loke said Vigneswaran, who was wearing a red collared shirt, long pants and sandals, did not stop and went downstairs into the VIP lobby area before heading to the departure gate.
According to Loke, the MIC chief had encroached into a security area without going through proper checks and without a security pass.
He also alleged that Vigneswaran failed to comply with the dress code as he had been wearing slippers when sending off his daughter through the VIP lane and demanded that Vigneswaran apologise.
Loke also accused him of scolding a KLIA staff who attempted to explain the protocol.
Vigneswaran denied breaching security protocol while using the VIP services at KLIA.
He said he had gone through the body check and was cleared by the officers on duty.
He explained that he had worn slippers as he had a wound and refuted the claim by a member of the airport staff that he was rude, saying this was “totally unreasonable”.
He also alleged that Loke was not interested in listening to his explanation.
“I tried contacting him. Why didn’t he respond to my calls?
“This is the first time my daughter is travelling to Britain. If I have committed a crime, why wasn’t I stopped or arrested?” he said.
He said he did not use any of the VIP rooms and only sent off his daughter, and denied being rude to staff, adding that he only asked to be shown a circular that VIPs could not wear sandals.
“I only wanted to see the exact circular. The circular only shows appropriate clothing.
“They should have stopped me If I have committed any wrongdoing,” he said.
When asked if he would apologise, Vigneswaran told FMT that he did not recognise kangaroo courts.
“Why should I apologise? He (Loke) should apologise to me instead.”
Meanwhile, Federal Territory MIC chief S Rajah has challenged Loke to take action against Daim Zainuddin for wearing slippers when using the VIP lane in KLIA.
“Daim’s (protocol) violation is greater because he wears slippers when representing the prime minister.
“Why was he not arrested? No police report lodged on this?” Rajah asked today.
Rajah claimed it appeared as if the minister had instructed KLIA officers to selectively uphold the law against opposition leaders, but not those aligned to the Pakatan Harapan government.
He told Malaysiakini that Loke was behaving in a childish manner.
“I am puzzled. First, he said Vigneswaran violated KLIA protocol and demanded an apology. Now, he says the matter is with the police. This shows that Loke is still immature.
“As a minister, he should not fire an accusation and then ask the police to probe,” he added.
Selangor police chief Mazlan Mansor said the case was being investigated under the Protected Areas and Protected Places Act 1959, reported Harian Metro.
In Seremban, Loke said the government would support its civil servants and government staff who carried out their duties accordingly.
He said under the Pakatan Harapan administration, these officers and staff must be “brave and stern” in enforcing their responsibilities.
“If they face any problems, we will back them up.
“That is the message I want to send to all government and agency officers who are in the frontline, as they face numerous challenges daily,” he said.
Loke said some officers were worried when facing VIPs.
“Do not worry. Follow the procedures and rules.
“Even I have to adhere to these rules. There is no exception,” he told reporters.
“I was told that such cases had also occurred under the previous government administration, but nothing was done even though officers lodged formal complaints,” he said.
“I want to send a message to our officers that under a new government if our officers do they duty according to the procedure and if they face trouble as a result, the minister will defend them.
“That is the message I want to send – that they should be courageous and firm in carrying out their duties,” he told journalists in Seremban this afternoon.
“If I don’t defend the staff here, then they may be worried when carrying out their duties in future,” he said.
Asked why no police report was lodged or action taken by the Immigration Department, he said the staff did not want to create a scene.
“I urge all VIPs and top leaders to respect the rule of law. This is the new Malaysia, not the old Malaysia.
“The old government might not take action but that is in the past,” he said, adding that a report on the case would be forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Department to decide if Vigneswaran should be stripped of the privilege.
Loke said he had exposed the incident for transparency’s sake, adding that it had nothing to do with Vigneswaran being an Opposition member.
“This is for public information and I want to send a strong message that everybody, including VIPs and ministers or top leaders, must follow all the rules and regulations.
“Those who want to enter (the VIP lanes) must have a tag. Without a tag, how can the security personnel know if you are authorised or not?
“Nobody is excluded from going through proper security checks and body searches, including me,” he said, adding that he viewed the case seriously because a VIP had set a bad example.
According to Vigneswaran, he has used the VIP lounge numerous times and had not been asked to display a VIP tag,
“If I had been informed that I had to display such a tag, I would have followed the rules.
“Even the security officer had not asked me to display the tag, they guided me to the lift to the lounge as I was about to take the staircase ,” he said.
Vickneswaran said he felt that the reception officer had behaved in an unfriendly manner and his officer had lodged a report on the incident.
He also pointed out that he did not use the VIP lounge because he was MIC president, he only used it because it was the privilege provided to him as the Dewan Negara president.
Loke said Vigneswaran had not made any apology as he was of the view that he had not committed any offence.
“For me, if we have hurt others with our words or actions, apologising is the best thing to do.
“An apology will not in any way degrade one’s reputation, especially when he has a position in the Senate.
“He should have shown a good example,” he said.
When asked if Vigneswaran should apologise for violating security protocol, Loke said it was his prerogative.
“It is up to him but he should be humble and apologise to those affected,” he said.
Earlier, both men traded verbal barbs after Loke showed the press a footage of Vigneswaran wearing sandals at the VIP lane and that he had encroached into a security area without going through proper checks.
The MIC president responded that it was “cheap publicity” by the DAP minister.