By Mervin Syafunko
Malaysian immigration officers looking down on tourists not well dressed recently came under fire from Tourism Minister, Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.
The minister told journalists that one’s physical appearance should not be used to determine a person’s intention or personality.
“Immigration officers form the frontline of the country. This is why they must be educated to refrain from adopting such perceptions,” he told reporters.
He was referring to a recent case where several people wanting to enter Malaysia were denied entry because they were shabbily clothed and unable to converse properly. He said his ministry would be having talks with the Immigration Department on the matter.
Tengku Adnan said 1.3 million tourists from Medan visited Malaysia last year and the ministry was aiming to surpass the two million mark this year. He also said that only Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Malacca and Genting Highlands were popular with North Sumatran tourists while other states were neglected.
As such, he said, talks were being held with tourist agencies to promote all states in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, to boost trade between Southern African and his country, Malaysian Airlines (MAS) and South African Airways (SAA) have signed a code-share agreement. From June 1 SAA customers have access to the three direct weekly MAS flights between Johannesburg and Kuala Lumpur.
Travellers are now able to connect to MAS flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu, Penang, Langkawi and to cities in Asia, including Jakarta, Denpasar, Manila, Bangkok and Phuket.
MAS customers can connect from Johannesburg to other South African airports such as Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London in SAA aircraft and to regional African destinations including Victoria Falls and Harare in Zimbabwe, Maputo in Mozambique, Maseru in Lesotho, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Windhoek and Botswana.
MAS managing director Idris Jala said the partnership with SAA was a strategy to strengthen its presence in the African market. This is in line with the Malaysian government’s policy of increasing trade ties between southern Africa and that country. The Malaysian government says Africa will be its long trading and tourism partner for many years to come. Tengku Adnan further said: “Africa and southern Africa in particular cannot be ignored.”
“In east Africa we have already started working with Kenya while in southern Africa we have business interests in Namibia and we are still expanding,” said the minister.