KUALA LUMPUR • More than 707,000 Malaysians are barred from leaving the country as they are bankrupt, have not paid their income taxes or owe government study loans, the Immigration Department has said.
The failure to check their travel status has contributed to long queues at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport as its computer systems takes time to check against the government's "suspected list" (SL) of offenders, Immigration director-general Mustafar Ali told the New Straits Times.
Mr Mustafar said the strain on the immigration's eGate counters comes as a growing number of agencies have requested help from the department to prevent those with unsettled payments from leaving the country. The agencies that have approached the department included the Malaysia Insolvency Department, the National Higher Education Fund Corporation and the Inland Revenue Board.
According to the department, the number of individuals on the list had already increased by more than 250,000 compared to last year. It added that most of the 707,304 individuals barred from leaving the country were those who owed government study loans.
"Our eGate system will go through the database and those whose names are in the SL will be denied boarding," he was quoted saying. "The eGate system will not provide details on why they cannot leave the country. Instead, they will be directed to the manned counters and given the contact numbers of related agencies to resolve their problem."
Mr Mustafar said the government hopes to speed up the check-in process by installing screening devices for travellers to check their status before going through the eGates, so as to prevent a backlog at the counters.
He added that the department was currently testing the screening devices.