Taipei, March 15 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday that its representative office in Malaysia will gain a better understanding of the detention of a Taiwanese woman by that country's customs authorities last week for presenting a damaged passport, while the Malaysian government said it has launched an investigation into the case.
A Taiwanese woman said recently on her Facebook page that she had been detained by Malaysian authorities for 35 hours upon arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 9 for having a damaged passport.
The woman said she was denied entry to the country because of damaged pages in her passport that she claimed were caused by Japanese customs authorities who tore off tax-free slips attached to her passport during a previous visit to Japan.
Malaysian customs officials then confiscated her passport and mobile phone and demanded that she pay them money, according to the woman.
She refused to pay and was then taken into custody, the woman said, adding that she was detained for 35 hours before she was able to return to Taiwan on March 11.
The Foreign Ministry said that according to Malaysia's standard operating procedure for stopping passengers from entering the country and for repatriation, if it fails to send back a passenger on the day of arrival, the passenger should be kept in a holding area in the airport and the Malaysian immigration department does not need to notify related foreign missions in the country.
But if the immigration department decides there is a need to transfer passengers to the airport's depot and keep them there for a longer time to facilitate an investigation, it should notify the relevant foreign missions, according to the ministry.
The Foreign Ministry said that ROC citizens traveling overseas are advised to seek emergency assistance from Taiwan's representative offices in foreign countries if they suffer what they perceive to be improper treatment, or report to the ministry and provide evidence to support their cases after returning home.
In related news, the Malaysian prime minister's special envoy to East Asia, Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, said Tuesday on his Facebook page that Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Ahmad Zahid bin Hamidi was infuriated after hearing about the matter because it could damage the country's image and hurt the tourism industry. He has issued a directive for an investigation into the case.
The Taiwanese traveler should not have been detained and should not have had her mobile phone and other belongings confiscated because she was not a criminal, Tiong said, adding that customs officers should not treat passengers from any countries in such an inhumane manner.
In this case, customs officers should first let the Taiwanese woman phone a friend in Malaysia or contact Taiwan's representative office there, or arrange for her to return to Taiwan by boarding a flight as soon as possible, he said.
According to Tiong, an investigation into the case has been launched and the Malaysian government has appraised Taiwan's representative office of the matter.
(By Ku Chuan, Kuo Chao-he and Evelyn Kao)