How Malaysian Immigration Officers Ran A Massive Corruption Scam (And Got Away Scot-Free)

15 Malaysian immigration officers with links to human trafficking groups have been fired for deliberately disabling passport controls at airports for years.

By now most of you already know that the Malaysian immigration system was sabotaged by the very officers working to protect it.

For which, the Immigration Department has fired 15 of its officers and several others have been either suspended or redeployed.

Prior to this, earlier in April and May, Officers from the Special Branch had conducted operations in the Klang Valley area, resulting in the arrests of 19 people involved in human trafficking syndicate. Among those arrested, there were 2 Malaysian Immigration Officers, IGP Khalid had revealed to the press.

The syndicate was trafficking migrants to Geneva, Switzerland.

While the syndicate would charge as much as RM60,000 to each migrant, the two arrested Immigration Officers working for the syndicate would ensure no issues for the migrants at their counters for a mere sum of RM150 to RM350 per migrant.

An undated file photo of a Malaysian policewoman smiling as she inspects a passenger’s passport at the KLIA.

Image via AFP

Following which, security at airports was tightened in the country.

Then on 18 May, it was also reported that there were many "loopholes" in the security screening system at our airports, which enabled the syndicate to take advantage of it. The Malay Mail Online reported that the Home Ministry was probing into it.

The Malay Mail Online quoted a ministry source as saying about Malaysia Immigration System (myIMMs), "It is believed the system may be downed deliberately, suggesting corruption. Those manning and operating the electronic screening of passengers — from the authorities to airline staff and employees of the system development company — are being investigated."

It was the frequent "crashes" of the system that had raised serious questions about myIMMs ability to keep out would-be terrorists, people smugglers, and other criminals, the unnamed source had said, adding that the high number of 'breakdowns' also suggests that "many on watch lists could have gone under the radar."

A doubt which was also raised by Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamad.

He had called into doubt the system's ability to screen incoming foreigners due to its "embarrassingly" frequent glitches which allow foreigners to enter Malaysia through the Kuala Lumpur airports easily. The Star reported him saying that the security screening system, implemented by Heitech Padu for over two decades, would be upgraded.

Even the National Audit Department, in its 2015 report, had found several weaknesses in the planning, implementation, and monitoring of the myIMMs project, which was worth RM29.9 million and was awarded through direct negotiations to HeiTech Padu in 2010 and approved by the Finance Ministry. Read more on this here.

Later, on 23 May, Deputy PM and Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, while commenting on the above report, said that he believes that the Malaysian Immigration System (myIMMs) has been sabotaged and several names had been identified.

Immigration Director-General Sakib Kusmi concurred with the DPM's assessment, saying that it has "some truth" as that is one of the factors causing the myIMMs system to be frequently disrupted and to face problems of efficiency, The Malay Mail reported.

And while HeiTech Padu's CEO Arif Mokhtar admitted that myIMMs is vulnerable to power outages and Internet service disruptions, he denied that the system was compromised. He also said that his company was being "unfairly singled out" and that "the department has the final say in allowing people into the country."

"It is unfortunate the shortcomings of the Immigration Department are being blamed on the myIMMs operating system and our company. We are being made the scapegoat for this mess. The system does what it is designed to do and it is up to the Immigration officer on duty to allow an individual into the country," he was quoted as saying.

An undated photo of a tourist going through the biometric procedure at the KLIA Airport.

Image via TMMO/Bernama

Following which, some 100 people, including officials from the Immigration Department, were investigated by authorities and it was revealed that the Malaysian Immigration System (myIMMs) could have been compromised as far back as 2010, The ST reported

On 31 May, following the investigation by the authorities, the Immigration Department fired 15 of its officers, who were among a total of 37 officers who were given "disciplinary action" over their role in the sabotage. The disciplinary action included 14 suspensions and 8 other had their salary increments frozen.

Immigration Department Director-General Sakib Kusmi was quoted by Malaysiakini that there are grounds to believe that the officers, some of whom have been with the department for more than a decade, may be linked to a human trafficking syndicate.

"They deal online. The instructions come from overseas. First, they have to access our system, then they can manipulate our system from outside. You can see this in our computers, the cursor moves, without someone operating it. These acts enabled traffickers to bypass immigration systems."

However, the surprising thing here is that no criminal action was taken against any of those Immigration Officers involved in crime, despite the fact that the sabotage caused millions of ringgit in losses to the government and posed a threat to national security

In fact, according to Director-General Sakib himself, the Immigration Department officers along with the syndicate involved in sabotaging the Malaysian Immigration System (myIMMs) may have made over RM1 billion through their illegal activities.

"I believe that since more than 100 officers were involved in these activities, they may have made over RM1 billion ... but it's only my guess," he was quoted by The Sun Daily.

AND:

"Due to the myIMMs being sabotaged, we really do not know how many people were allowed into the country by these rogue officers," the D-G said, admitting too that there was a possibility that even terrorists may have slipped in because of this.

ADDITIONALLY:

During the period Malaysia's passport system was said to be compromised, the British and Australian governments had raised their terror alerts for Malaysia, warning of possible attacks in and around the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, Deputy PM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was quoted as saying:

That "only illegal immigrants slipped through immigration at the KLIA", and "no terrorists slipped through". He added that those who sabotaged the myIMMs immigration system at KLIA were "not involved any form of terrorist activity".

"We are not protecting any immigration officer (involved in sabotaging the system) no matter the rank," the DPM stressed.

At the time of writing this story, 2 June, while the police claim to have identified a "Malaysian mastermind", they are yet to arrest any of the Immigration Officers involved in the sabotage of myIMMs and for running this massive corruption scam against the country!

On the other hand, police have arrested a total of 15 people this year for simply saying the word 'bomb' in the KLIA and KLIA2:

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