Now criminals can't fly out

KUALA LUMPUR - More than 30 countries will be linked in the Advanced Passenger Screening System (APSS) to prevent transnational criminals from flying out of their respective countries come June 1.

The international APSS network will cover countries like Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and the United States to ensure individuals with serious criminal records do not get travel access.

Immigration Department director-general Datuk Alias Ahmad told the New Straits Times the APSS would enable Malaysia to filter out foreigners who may be a threat to national and international security.

"Through the APSS, those blacklisted and barred from entering Malaysia will be filtered and stopped from boarding the plane abroad."

He said the APSS would be effective because it covered all International Air Transportation Association (Iata) members to help combat transnational crime.

"This will help reduce drug and human trafficking, especially from countries identified as the hub for such activities."

Alias said the APSS would be be implemented at all 96 entry points as part of the department's transformation programme to enhance national security.

On the National Foreigners Enforcement and Registration System (NERS), Alias said the department would be able to easily monitor foreigners entering and leaving the country.

"The biometric system is more competent and will help the department function better," he said, adding that there was about 1.8 million registered foreign workers in the country.

"We do not know of the ones who are not registered now, but this will change with the NERS as there will be a record of each visitor, be they workers, students, trade officers or tourists.

"The NERS will enable us to detect document forgery, those who overstay and misuse their visa, passes and work permits. All foreigners will have his or her fingerprints documented at our immigration counters, a process that will take less than a minute. If foreigners overstay, the NERS will immediately alert us."

Alias said Malaysia was recording more than 25 million tourists a year and it was difficult to detect those who had overstayed.

"With the NERS, we will be alerted on their status immediately, thereby enhancing the management of foreigners, something that we can't do much about now."

Alias said foreigners who kept forging and changing their identity (through passports) would be detected because "fingerprints cannot be forged".

- New Straits Times