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Flexible handling of travel blacklist

  • The relevant authorities must have in place some sort of mechanism to notify individuals involved before putting them in the blacklist.

Sin Chew Daily

Statistics show that some 790,000 Malaysians have been placed on travel blacklist for a number of reasons. And the immigration department says this number has been rising steadily over the years.

More than half of these people, some 440,000 of them, are PTPTN defaulters who have never paid a single cent of their outstanding loans. The rest are on the blacklist of IRD, KWSP, customs dept and immigration dept.

Many of them are only aware that they have been barred from leaving the country when they arrive at the immigration desk of the airport, and this has not only affected their travel plans but also inconvenienced other travelers as well as airport staff.

In view of this, the immigration department has set up self service kiosks at KLIA to allow passengers to check whether they have been put in the blacklist.

This, of course, is the last resort. As a matter of fact, Malaysians have been repeatedly reminded to check their immigration status online before making any travel plan.

Even though checking the status online is simple and convenient, it is still necessary for the authorities to inform individuals involved through other channels.

According to the internal revenue department, a taxpayer can check his or her status online while a travel restriction notice will be sent via registered mail to the taxpayer's registered address, as required under Section 104 of Income Tax Act 1967 as well as Section 22 of Real Property Gains Tax Act 1976, targeting mainly taxpayers who have repeatedly ignored IRD's warnings.

Those blacklisted by IRD must apply to the authorities to lift the travel ban at least seven days in advance.

Such a move has been criticized by some as having abused the relevant laws because the authorities should at least prove that these people indeed have the intention of leaving the country for good to evade their tax liabilities.

To be honest these tax defaulters are not leaving this country for good, and the authorities should weigh their conditions on a case-to-case basis instead of squarely barring them from leaving.

Fulfilling tax obligation is a duty and responsibility of all law-abiding citizens. However, some tax defaulters may not be fully aware of their tax responsibilities while others are viciously and intentionally evading their taxes. For the former, they need to be educated and for the latter, stern actions must be taken against them.

As for loan defaulters, PTPTN says there are almost 6,000 borrowers blacklisted each day for failing to pay up their dues. To make these people pay, the authorities have adopted all kinds of methods, including setting up offices at airports to assist blacklisted travelers.

I'm sure many PTPTN borrowers are well aware of their unpaid dues, but they have stubbornly ignored the reminders and notices from the authorities despite numerous government efforts and promotions.

If those who have not paid a single cent of their debts would not bother to check their status online prior to their trips, it may be necessary for the authorities to come up with more drastic measures.

As for the other departments such as KWSP, they must have in place some sort of mechanism to notify individuals involved before putting them in the blacklist.

Owing to differences in individuals' conditions, the authorities should assess each case individually so as to avoid any unnecessary misunderstanding.

 

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