The government strongly objects the decision by the US to categorise Malaysia in the newly introduced “K” indicator in a travel advisory issued by the State Department on April 9.
Malaysia’s inclusion in the “K” indicator reflects the US government’s concern about potential kidnapping or hostage-taking situations in certain areas of eastern Sabah.
US Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir will also be summoned to explain the State Department’s move, which Wisma Putra said lacks in objectivity and doesn’t reflect reality.
In a strongly-worded statement yesterday, Wisma Putra condemned the move which it deemed not representative of the reality on the ground, particularly the security situation in eastern Sabah which remains safe and protected for tourists.
“Given these facts, Malaysia urges the US to be more objective in its assessment. We urge the US to immediately remove Malaysia from the ‘K’ list.
“The US ambassador to Malaysia will be summoned to provide clarification about the new travel advisory,” Wisma Putra stated.
The ministry highlighted tourist arrivals in Sabah has grown by 5.5%, reaching 3.87 million last year.
“Further, the number of kidnapping incidents has dropped significantly to almost nil. Eastern Sabah continues to attract world-class divers,” it added.
The positive development has been the result of proactive measures taken by the government, which includes increased patrols, closer security cooperation with neighbouring countries and strategic positioning of security assets in the areas.
According to the US State Department’s website, the “K”list is a new risk indicator to its public travel advisories in order to communicate more clearly to US citizens the risks of kidnapping and hostage-taking by criminal and terrorist actors around the world.
Besides Malaysia, 34 countries are listed under the “K” indicator. Among them are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Syria, Turkey and Yemen.