Malaysian and US to enhance cooperation to tighter border controls

PETALING JAYA - The Immigration authorities of Malaysia and the United States will enhance cooperation on improving screening procedures for visitors to Malaysia, says Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said the cooperation would also enable the Malaysian Immi­gration Department to undergo various programmes with the US Customs Department and Border Security.

A memorandum of understanding on the cooperation was signed yesterday by Dr Ahmad Zahid and US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.

Noting that transnational crime involved the movement of people and commission of crime across international borders, Dr Ahmad Zahid said this called for tighter border controls.

"We need to provide our Immi­gration personnel with training and capacity-building programmes as well as equip them with modern and sophisticated equipment," he said yesterday.

In this regard, he said, there was a need to compare the best practices of other countries.

He described the cooperation between the two countries as critical to combat the threats of transnational crime faced by sovereign states globally.

During his meeting with Johnson, Dr Ahmad Zahid also conveyed to him Malaysia's aspirations to be listed in the US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP).

The VWP will enable Malaysians to enter the United States without applying for visas and will allow them to stay there for a maximum of 90 days for tourism or business purposes.

He said the programme can help enhance the flow of investors, tourists and students from Malaysia to the United States, while security screening could be done in Malaysia before Malaysians enter American soil.

"We have been improvising our checklist, including enforcing stricter measures," he added.

To date, 37 countries have participated in the VWP, including Singapore and Brunei.

Dr Ahmad Zahid also met Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director John Brennan at the CIA headquarters on the last day of his nine-day visit to the United States, which started on Sept 24.

During his visit, he also held meetings with former New York Police Department chief Charles V. Campisi on the collaboration between Malaysian police and the department on enhancing police integrity.