Published on: Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Kota Kinabalu: Immigration officers at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) here were left red-faced when a man they stopped from entering on suspicion of using a fake "Pengenalan Istimewa" card turned out to be Sarawak Land Development Minister, Tan Sri Dr James Masing.
Arriving here at about 6pm on Saturday, Masing was denied entry when he showed his VIP pass, which is used by political representatives and ministers at the immigration counter.
Only after a cumbersome explanation to prove his identity was Masing allowed into the State.
"It was a case of mistaken identity," said Masing, laughing when contacted for comment on Monday. He said the immigration officers stopped him because they thought his special pass was fake due to his appearance.
Perhaps, the immigration officers were expecting a Minister to be in smart attire. Masing was wearing a t-shirt and jeans when he arrived at the airport.
"Anybody can make this card," he recalled the immigration officers as telling him.
"I was detained probably because I was wearing jeans, I did not realise that YBs and ministers must use smart attire in Sabah.
The minister added that his experience was a reminder for other ministers and elected representatives on the proper attire to wear when using that special pass.
To add to the confusion, Masing who is Parti Rakyat Sarawak President, said he did not bring along his Identity Card for the trip, because "I have lost my IC twice."
Masing admitted that he was embarrassed by the whole thing because he was here on holiday with some friends.
"But I am okay now," he said.