Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia has sacked 15 immigration department officers and suspended 14 others after an investigation found staff had colluded with criminal syndicates to manipulate systems that track entry and exit, the government has said. The subterfuge was centred at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and had begun in 2010, the department’s director-general, Sakib Kusmi, said in a statement released yesterday.
Around two dozen other department staff have faced administrative action or were under observation, 63 have been transferred, and criminal charges could be forthcoming, he said. “The syndicates hacked or breached our system with the help of the involved immigration officers,” he said. Sakib added that the activity allowed the criminal networks – which he said included foreign elements – to manipulate information on who entered or left the country. No further details on the syndicates, or other specifics of the nature or scope of the sabotage, were given.
Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi said last week that about 100 people, including both immigration officers and criminal syndicate members, were under investigation by authorities over the security breaches. The punishments were meted out beginning in February. Sakib said the immigration department also would implement a large-scale transfer of personnel at KLIA to guard against a recurrence.
No mention was made of any terrorist or extremist involvement in the affair, and Sakib said no high-level immigration officials were implicated. Muslim-majority Malaysia has said that scores of its citizens had gone to join the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, and authorities have been on heightened alert against extremists returning to carry out attacks at home- AFP
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