The US released a new travel advisory dated Apr 9 stating a new risk indicator for US citizens wanting to travel elsewhere. The “K” indicator is intended to specify countries with a high risk of “kidnapping and hostage taking by criminal and terrorist actors around the world.”
Malaysia is included in the “K” list because of the “threat of kidnappings-for-ransom” in Sabah. Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is more than displeased.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested saying that the US should remove Malaysia from the list, arguing that the US should be “more objective in its assessment.”
The ministry then explained that the government is doing its part to increase security within and around Sabah as well as foster cooperation with surrounding countries in order to prevent such incidents.
The ministry cited that tourist arrivals in Sabah have increased by 5.5% or 3.87 million tourists last 2018. They added that kidnapping incidents have also “dropped significantly to almost nil.”
Classifying Malaysia as a high-risk country for kidnapping can possibly damage its tourism numbers, and Sabah is known for its diving spots.
The US classified Sabah with a Level 2 risk, “Exercise Increased Caution.” The warning stated the “threat of kidnappings-for-ransom from both terrorist and criminal groups… [which] may attack with little to no warning, targeting coastal resorts, island resorts, and boats ferrying tourists to resort islands.”
The 35 countries in the US K-list are as follows: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russian Federation, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine (in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine), Venezuela, and Yemen.
Malaysia demanded that the US remove them from the “K” list, and wanted to schedule a dialogue with the US envoy to “provide clarification” regarding the matter./TISG