Why was Taiwanese woman detained for 35 hours in Malaysia?

PHOTO: The China Post/ANN

A Taiwanese woman has posted online about how she was detained by Malaysian authorities for 35 hours due to a damaged passport.

The woman, identified by her alias "Qiao-mei," wrote that upon her flight's arrival at the Kuala Lumpur airport, Malaysian immigration officials complained about a damaged page in her passport, resulting in her being held for 35 hours without a phone.

The Foreign Ministry said it was contacting relevant authorities at the airport to understand the situation.

Qiao-mei said the passport page had been damaged when a duty free form stapled onto it was ripped off by a Japanese customs official. She wrote that Malaysian customs authorities created a great fuss about the page, brought her to an office, took away her cell phone and demanded cash.

Qiao-mei said she had refused to pay and was released only after 35 hours had passed.

According to a report sent to the Foreign Ministry by Malaysia, the woman arrived in Kuala Lumpur on an Air Asia flight on March 9 at 8:30 p.m. and was denied entry because of a "damaged passport." She disembarked on March 11 at 9:20 a.m. for Taiwan, the report said.

Malaysian authorities did not note that the traveller was held or that her passport and cell phone were taken from her.

Travelers who are denied entry to Malaysia and are unable to disembark on the same day are taken to the airport's holding lounge while arrangements are made to send them back to their country of origin, the Taiwan ministry said.

Malaysian officials do not inform foreign consular offices of such cases unless it deems it necessary for the traveller to be held for a longer time at a depot near the airport, the ministry added.

It urged citizens encountering emergencies overseas to contact the closest consular office for assistance or to directly contact the Foreign Ministry after returning to Taiwan and providing relevant evidence and documentation.