Wednesday, 2 October, 2002

US 'regrets' Malaysian checks

The US has expressed regret for any "inappropriate treatment" of Malaysian leaders following the revelation that the deputy prime minister had to remove his shoes during an airport security check.
Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had to take off his shoes and belt in Los Angeles last month despite holding a diplomatic passport.
"The US embassy sincerely regrets any inconveniences or inappropriate treatment that senior Malaysian Government officials may have experienced during their visits to the US," the Kuala Lumpur embassy said in a statement on Wednesday.
The apology followed an outcry in Malaysia after Mr Badawi's experience was made public this week.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday accused the US of "anti-Muslim hysteria".
Malaysian anger has been compounded by new security measures at US airports which means Malaysians can be photographed and fingerprinted on arrival and matched against terrorist databases.
Immigration officers can register certain visitors from selected Arab and Muslim countries including Malaysia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Sudan.
Dr Mahathir has said he is very upset at the new measures which he says labels all Muslims as potential terrorists.
Following the news of Mr Badawi's experiences in LA, a former newspaper editor revealed he recently had to go through a three-hour interrogation by security officials at Des Moines International Airport in Iowa.
Kadir Jasin, writing s column for a business monthly, says he plans to boycott travel to the US and is urging other Malaysians to go elsewhere to holiday or study.
Mr Badawi, who is set to succeed Dr Mahathir when he retires next year, was on his way to New York to address the United Nations general assembly when he was stopped at LA airport. He has played down the incident.
"All of us had to undergo the same security checks, even the pilot," he told the Star newspaper.

Tuesday, October 1st 2002

DPM ‘forced to take off shoes and belt’
in US airport, Parliament told

By Susan Loone

Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was asked to take off his shoes and belt during an immigration check while flying from Los Angeles to New York City, a government backbencher told Parliament today.
While debating the Budget 2003, Zulhasnan Rafique (BN-Wangsa Maju) said the United States Immigration had “embarrassed” Abdullah with stringent checks although the premier-in-waiting held a diplomatic passport and a G-visa, which was issued to government representatives.
According to Zulhasnan, Abdullah was held up at the Los Angeles airport and forced to undergo stringent checks while on his way to speak at the United Nations' General Assembly in New York last month.
“These [checks] included [forcing] the deputy prime minister to take off his shoes and belt,” he lamented.
"If this [were to happen] to me, it is fine, for who am I? [After all,] I do not have a diplomatic or G-visa to say that I represent the government," Zulhasan said.
"But as this happened to our deputy premier, I want to ask the Foreign Ministry to explain if there were any such [requirements of] other government leaders who visited the US," he continued.