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Friday, April 11, 2008

Gunfight at the KLIA Corral...

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Walski's currently in Kota Kinabalu (or KK) attending a couple of meetings. The real bad news is that the hotel he's staying at doesn't have internet access - a real bummer for travelling business folk, and a big bummer for this one blogger. This post, therefore, comes to you courtesy of the Warisan Square Starbucks...

Image hosting by PhotobucketGetting to KK requires one to fly thru KLIA...

In any case, to get to KK from Kuala Lumpur, unless you travel on the cheap, you typically would have to fly out from KL International Airport (KLIA) - which, to be fair has garnered quite a number of worldwide awards. And quite frankly, KLIA is really not a bad airport. Except for the toilets - but then again, that's a perennial Malaysian problem.

Being a frequent traveller, however, two recent news items have kinda gotten Walski a little disconcerted. The first is the incident of how a Dhaka-bound passenger managed to get on board his flight with a knife - not sure however if we're talking Swiss Army or bigger size, but knives are a definite no-no on board. Granted, these things do happen, and to their credit, Malaysia Airports has suspended the security officer on duty, pending an investigation.

But it's the shootout story that got Walski a little rattled... now, everybody can become armed robbers...
(how secure is secure, and more, in the full post)

KLIA, however, is not to blame, in this case, Walski feels. Quite frankly, it would be very difficult to screen traffic in and out of the airport area, unless you do what Tokyo Narita Airport does - there, they stop every single vehicle coming into the airport area, and subject each vehicle to security inspections. As far as Walski remembers, they've been doing that since day one, due to the protests when the airport first opened way back when.

A case like this, however, does highlight the fact that the Royal Malaysian Police have really done a lousy job in keeping crime down, particularly in recent years, evidenced by the alarming rise in crime, and in violent crimes, specifically.

The news report doesn't exactly state at what time of day the robbery took place. Another question that crossed Walski's mind: where were the traffic police who are supposed to be stationed at the departure (and arrival) area?

It really makes Walski wonder sometimes - how is it that with the stringent gun laws we have in this country, so much armed robbery is taking place? Yeah, okay - they're mostly probably smuggled from neighboring countries where firearms are more readily available.

Or is there some truth to the allegations that organized crime (as this case has been classified) is being "protected" by members of the very same organization that's supposed to be keeping the country safe? Are incidents like the shootout at KLIA acceptable "collateral damage" - implicit arrangements so that organized crime is kept alive and well for purposes that escape Walski's understanding?

Fortunately, no one was killed in the process of the robbery. But getting hurt by gunfire is definitely no fun either, and 5 people were casualties in this instance.

Walski, by the way, couldn't help to snicker a little at what was written in the report, right at the end: "The incident did not cause any flight delays".

And in particular, Walski's also pretty sure that the armed robbers' flight was pretty much on schedule, too. Now, if only the airlines could give similar guarantees.