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Why only Chinese tourists detained, but others not?
Published on: Tuesday, December 31, 2019
By: Larry Ralon, Edwin Liew
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Why only Chinese tourists detained, but others not?
Bernama file photo for illustration only.
Kota Kinabalu: China’s Consulate here expressed regret, Monday, that while it is doing its best to help Sabah’s tourism industry – now accounting for 45 per cent of arrivals – it has found out that its citizens are not being treated the same as those from other countries despite the huge benefit to the State.

It said no less than 20 of its citizens have been subjected to detention and prosecution since last year for failure to have the entry chop in their passports through fault not totally their own, but that other nationals who faced the same situation are let off by making a payment.

Referring to the latest detention of four Chinese tourists for 18 days at the Tawau detention centre for lacking the entry chop, it said many people in China are now asking the Consulate General’s office on whether to visit Sabah. “We hope Sabah can create a friendly environment for Chinese tourists. “We strongly wish that such an incident will not recur because next year is  China-Malaysia Travel Year. We wish Sabah can be a real heart-warming place where Chinese people can come and visit. We are willing to give our cooperation,” it said, in a statement.

It said a check with the Japanese Consulate and the Brunei Embassy showed that what happened to the four Chinese tourists was also faced by Japanese and Bruneians visiting Sabah as well. However, strangely, in the case of the Japanese and Brunei tourists, the  Sabah enforcement authority did not detain or fine them for forgetting to have the Immigration stamp on their passports, but pay for a visit pass and leave Sabah. “We cannot accept nor understand why Sabah enforcement treat Chinese citizens differently. Since last year, 20 Chinese tourists have been mistakenly detained and fined for failing to get their travel document stamped,” said the statement issued after its officials accompanied the four Chinese tourists to catch their flight home to China at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) on Monday afternoon.


The four – Zhang QingSi, 23, Wang XiaLi, 25, Wu JingTing, 24, and Liu Ling, 22 – were released from 18 days of detention (since Dec. 10) for immigration offences. They came via flight MH395 from Shanghai to Kota Kinabalu at 6.15am on Dec. 4, this year, and subsequently, took flight MH212 at 7.40am the same day and arrived at Tawau at 8.25am. However, it was reported that they failed to report themselves at any immigration counter, especially the transit counter at KKIA to obtain the “Immigration Entry Stamp” or “Endorsement” upon arrival.

They were detained on Dec. 10 when returning to Shanghai via Tawau International Airport. Their passports did not have any immigration stamp to denote their arrival in Sabah on Dec. 4.

They were charged under Section 24 (2) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 for refusing or neglecting to appear before Immigration officials as required by the country’s Immigration regulations. The concerned section provides a maximum fine of RM10,000 or up to five years in jail or both, upon conviction.

They were sentenced to 18 days in prison starting from the date of arrest (Dec. 10) after they pleaded guilty at the Tawau Sessions Court on Saturday (Dec. 28).

The Consulate General thanked all those involved in resolving the problem, especially Law Minister Datuk VK Liew, as well as all those who rendered assistance to the four during their 18-day ordeal.

“The Consulate General feel sorry for what these young women had to go through as they were just ordinary tourists and not involved in any unlawful activity. It was their mistake that they went to the wrong place and forgot to have their travel document stamped and because of this mistake they were detained for 18 days. “The Consulate General also does not understand why they were detained for so long even after the investigations were completed. But we respect that the Malaysian enforcement have to do their job. “The cause at the airport, where tourists unconsciously go through the door without getting their documents stamped, may be because no actual signboard...we never had such an incident happen at any other airport,” it said. 


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