The Home Ministry has pledged to take stern action against those responsible for the reported lax of security in the immigration department's Electronic Travel Registration & Information (eNTRI) system, which is said to allow blacklisted individuals including criminals from China, into Malaysia.
In a statement this evening, its minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that since he took charge of the portfolio he had instructed the ministry to review concessions with vendors who handle various systems for the immigration department, including foreign visa (VLN).
"The purpose of the review is to ensure the government's interests, and the country's security is not compromised in any way.
"The home ministry will also propose to the cabinet to upgrade existing immigration systems, before considering introducing a new, more efficient one. This is to ensure the service provided is efficient, safe and cost-saving," he said.
Muhyiddin also assured that his ministry is working with MACC in the latter's probe against several companies which have concession agreements on immigration systems.
"The ministry will not hesitate to take stern action against any quarters, should there be any weakness or wrongdoing, in the implementation of such systems," he added.
Muhyiddin was responding to an exclusive report by Malay tabloid daily Harian Metro that the eNTRI system, which enables China citizens to enter Malaysia for 15 days without a visa, has failed to put in place sufficient vetting processes.
The system has been run by Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB), through a concession agreement sealed with the Home Ministry in 2016. It was reported that the agreement is valid until 2020.
UKSB had reportedly pocketed all of RMB160 (RM100) paid for each application, which can only be made online without channelling it to the government's coffers.
UKSB has also been previously implicated in overcharging Nepali workers who come to work in Malaysia.
Even an ape can get through
The processing of applying for the entry visa itself reportedly takes less than five minutes and an undercover journalist from Harian Metro managed to secure one such document from Guangzhou, China, by using fake details, fake address and the profile picture of an ape.
According to the report, UKSB would have made over an estimated RM198 million, approving visa-free travel entry to some 2.05 million China nationals, from March 2016 to Sept 2018.
The company has about 20 agents throughout China, to handle eNTRI applications, it added.
A travel agent, who only wanted to be identified as Raymond, told Harian Metro that those blacklisted from Malaysia can enter the country by applying through eNTRI.
"Just prepare documents like flight tickets, which can be fake, and the application is sure to go through," he said, adding that many China women who have previously been deported from Malaysia for being involved in prostitution have used the system to re-enter the country.
According to Raymond, although the government has abolished visa fees to attract China tourists to Malaysia, UKSB still charges the RM100 for each eNTRI application, with all the proceeds going to the company.
"UKSB also charges RMB200 (RM200) for eVisa services and visa stickers. However, part of the proceeds (RMB80 or RM50) is channelled to the government.
"The funny thing here is UKSB only provides the server for immigration checks. In fact, the cost to produce visa stickers is fully borne by the Malaysian government."
Harian Metro's attempts to reach UKSB for comment proved futile.