KUCHING: The facial recognition system similar to the one used by the Immigration Department should be extended to all international visitors, Federal Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said.
He also suggested that airport authorities place staff who are multilingual to assist foreign tourists who are not proficient in English.
Tiong felt these measures would help ease tourists through immigration clearance procedures following complaints from tourists that the immigration and customs clearance at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) was taking too long.
“The facial recognition system used by the Immigration Department must be extended to all international visitors, not only those with long-term passes in order to ease the clearance process.
“Proficiency in multiple languages should also be a consideration by the authorities as not all foreign tourists are proficient in English, which may lead to slow clearances or unnecessary misunderstandings.
“Therefore, I also urge KLIA to place staff with the right language skills to help ease tourirsts through immigration clearance procedures,” he said in his Facebook posting.
He added that the problem of insufficient manpower stationed at entry points in international airport was not a new issue.
“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“This delay in immigration clearance points to an outmoded and outdated design of the immigration checkpoints at KLIA. A single-row counter design is slow, outdated, and wastes space in comparison to a double-row design.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, who is Bintulu MP, urged the Ministry of Home Affairs (KDN) to resolve the issue urgently as the entry points would continue to be choked up, overcrowded and inefficient if no immediate action was taken.
“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 be worse. The Immigration Department and KDN have no choice but to rectify this matter immediately, including promoting the right officers to the right posts with the right knowledge of the procedures,” he said.