KL minister seeks facts

MALAYSIA - Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin yesterday raised questions over the alleged treatment of Malaysian football fans entering Singapore for the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup, and has written a letter to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) seeking an explanation on the issue.

In a Facebook post, Mr Khairy said: "I was told they (Malaysian fans) were detained at the checkpoint and not allowed to enter Singapore, simply because they had wanted to watch the match.

"Though we respect the procedures of other countries, I am not happy with the way Malaysian football fans were treated. Once there is a reply (from Singapore), I will inform the Malaysian public."

A report from the Malay Mail on Monday alleged that some fans were turned away at immigration checkpoints, and that Malaysian supporters were outnumbered at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Football Association of Singapore (FAS) spokesman Gerard Wong said all visiting countries are allocated 1,500 tickets per match at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

All of Myanmar's tickets were sold out, but only around 700 Malaysia tickets were snapped up for the match on Sunday, which ended in a 0-0 draw.

In response to Mr Khairy's comments, an ICA spokesman said: "As with most countries, a visitor's entry to Singapore is neither automatic nor a right.

The grant of visit passes to visitors is assessed by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers at the point of arrival and subjected to prevailing immigration policies, amongst others.

"The ICA has also responded to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Malaysia, on this issue." The Malaysian minister's comments come ahead of the Group B match between Singapore and Malaysia on Saturday.

The Straits Times understands that Malaysian fans entering Singapore on coaches will be directed to the former People's Association headquarters for security checks before proceeding to the National Stadium.

In his Facebook post, Mr Khairy also questioned why Myanmar fans, who outnumbered Malaysian supporters, could display a giant flag in the stadium.

The FAS' Wong said: "The Myanmar fans had written to us for permission to display their flag."

This article was first published on November 26, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.