A slew of meetings with key American officials await Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin as Malaysia seeks to deepen ties with the United States amid security challenges posed by issues such as terrorism and concerns over matters like human trafficking and illegal migration.
Muhyiddin arrived on Sunday in Washington for a working visit until Wednesday before flying to New York for similar engagements with US officials there.
His itinerary for Monday will see him heading to the US Homeland Security headquarters for talks with acting US Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and a visit to the US Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC).
Muhyiddin will also feature at a leadership forum at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies where he is expected to share his views on Malaysia-US strategic relations.
His other programmes in Washington DC over the next few days include engaging with US Ambassador for Trafficking in Persons, John Cotton Richmond, as well as senior officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
"The working visit is aimed at deepening bilateral linkages between the US and Malaysia in the field of security...," he said ahead of the high-powered talks and visits to the key US security institutions.
Muhyiddin pointed out that Malaysia had well-established ties with world-renowned security agencies such as the FBI and CIA, with cooperation covering areas including information exchange, training and other capacity-building measures.
Such cooperation is needed as the country simply cannot let its guard down when it comes to terrorism as it strives to ensure its security agencies are equipped with the necessary tools.
Getting a closer look
Malaysia’s vigilance and intelligence gathering enabled the Royal Malaysian Police to detain 495 people from 2013 to August 2019 over their involvement as members, recruiters, financiers or sympathisers with the Islamic State. The figure comprised 333 Malaysians and 162 foreign nationals.
With the security landscape posing more challenges of late, Muhyiddin believes Kuala Lumpur still had things to learn from the Americans on how to tackle them.
This, he said, would include looking at how the US used technological advancements to manage issues linked to terrorism, trafficking in persons, migration and others.
Muhyiddin explained that his visit to the terrorist screening centre would allow him to get a closer look at how technology is used in terms of identifying terrorists or those possessing such inclination.
“This is in line with our proposed initiative to manage a new immigration system which is currently being developed,” he said.
In New York, the home minister is expected to meet with New York Police Department officials on a learning mission to see whether Malaysia could emulate some of the initiatives that it has undertaken for crime prevention.
“In other words, in the space of a few days of my visit to the US, we hope to be able to strengthen ties between our security agencies and learn new things that may benefit us,” Muhyiddin said of his visit that runs until Sept 21.
The minister is accompanied, among others, by his wife Norainee Abdul Rahman and Home Ministry officials, as well as Perak Menteri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu.