Voodoo dolls, didgeridoo and salted fish among the strange lost items left at KL International Airport

KLIA terminal operations senior executive Lailatulazirah Zakaria holding a didgeridoo while Mohd Arif shows several passports.
KLIA terminal operations senior executive Lailatulazirah Zakaria holding a didgeridoo while Mohd Arif shows several passports. PHOTO: THE STAR / ASIA NEWS NETWORK

SEPANG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - KL International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the region, has amassed a range of quirky items left by absent-minded travellers.

There are voodoo dolls, engagement rings, ikan masin (salted fish), durian and even a British Airways pilot's cap, just to name a few.

The Star was allowed a rare peek into KLIA's lost and found room, which revealed diverse belongings left behind like MacBooks, passports, wallets, bicycles, television sets, rice cookers and even underwear.

"Once, a Bangladeshi man came and said he lost his friend," said Ms Nur Afidah Zahari, 27, who works at the lost and found department.

"Another time, I found a plastic bag with voodoo dolls inside."

On average, about 1,700 items - ranging from bags to jewellery - are left behind yearly in Malaysia's busiest airport. Only 26 per cent of these are ever claimed.

While most of the items in the room are the usual bags, mobile phones and electrical items, the staff said they had seen strange things left behind in the airport over the years.

"People have even left perishables here," Ms Nur Afidah said, citing how pork, ikan masin and durian were kept in a locker before they were disposed of after the stipulated three-day grace period for foodstuff.

The Star saw two Cartier engagement rings still in their boxes, which were left by a Chinese couple on transit. Gold rings, Rolex watches, necklaces, earrings and wads of cash have also been left behind by travellers.

These valuables are kept inside a safe and could not be photographed. The dimly lit storeroom is located on the third floor of the airport.

The room has shelves of copies of the Quran, boxes of unopened duty-free liquor and cigarettes, walking sticks, wheelchairs, camera tripods and designer bags.

There was even a brand new camera drone still in its box, which workers said was found abandoned in the common area in the departure terminal.

Other items included an Australian didgeridoo.

In another section of the room, there were boxes filled with passports, MyKad (Malaysian identity card), credit cards, driving licences, wallets and glasses.

The department, manned by four people, gets about 10 calls a day for lost items.

Sometimes, Ms Nur Afidah said, people would show up saying they had lost jewellery but were turned away when they could not properly identify or produce proof, like receipts of the items.

Malaysia Airports Holdings general manager Mohd Arif Jaafar said: "Usually if we see something has been left there, we will monitor it for about 20 minutes. If no one comes to collect it, we will take it to the room. We will scan it for hazardous content, then catalogue and tag it."

These items are kept here for up to one month. If no one comes for them after that, they are handed to the Customs or Department of Environment to be disposed of.

"You may think it is sayang (a shame) to do so. But we have to follow the regulations. We cannot simply take other people's belongings even if we can reuse the items or give them to charity.

"We have that intention but procedures do not allow us to do so. Maybe some groups can propose this and press for the rules to be changed. We would welcome that idea," Mr Mohd Arif said.

KLIA handled 22.9 million passengers in its terminal last year. There are 819 lost items currently sitting in the Lost and Found room.