Tourism minister proposes measures to reduce two-hour wait to clear immigration at KLIA

Tiong (right) observing the queue at KLIA. Photo credit: Tiong King Sing's Facebook page

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KUCHING, Jan 24: Federal Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) Minister, Dato Sri Tiong King Sing, has called for the facial recognition system used by the Immigration Department to be extended to all international visitors and for airport authorities to place staff proficient in multiple languages to assist foreign tourists who are not proficient in English.

The Bintulu MP said this would ease the immigration clearance process following complaints from arriving tourists that the immigration and customs clearance at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is still taking too long.

“The facial recognition system must also be extended to all international visitors, not only those with long-term passes, to ease the clearance process.

“Proficiency in multiple languages should also be a consideration by the authorities. Not all foreign tourists are proficient in English, which may lead to slow clearances or unnecessary misunderstandings.

“Therefore, I also urge KLIA authorities to place staff with the right language skills to help ease tourists through immigration clearance procedures,” he said in a post on his Facebook page today.

In his post, Tiong said that many complaints had been received from arriving tourists that the immigration and customs clearance processes are still taking too long to complete.

“On a random inspection, we found that queues toward the immigration counters are still unacceptably long, with arrivals being kept in line for two hours or more,” he said.

He also elaborated that the issue of insufficient workforce is not new and has been criticised at various times.

“If Malaysia is to welcome back international tourists as a competitive destination of choice, it must urgently resolve this issue of insufficient staff at immigration and customs checkpoints.

“This points to an outmoded and outdated design of the immigration checkpoints at KLIA. A single-row counter design is slow, outdated, and wastes space compared to a double-row design. An average of two to three minutes to complete the immigration clearance is considered grossly inefficient compared to the 30 seconds required by other advanced clearance systems,” he said.

Tiong, therefore, called upon the Home Affairs Ministry (KDN) to resolve this issue immediately.

“On a long-term basis, it is clear that even with all counters fully staffed, they would not be able to handle a gradually recovering tourist volume once all flights are fully restored.

“With sudden surges in arrivals, the delays can be expected to worsen. The Immigration Department and KDN have no choice but to rectify this matter immediately,” he said. — DayakDaily