Malaysia’s not pleased after the US included it in a list of countries with kidnapping risks for travellers

The US foreign ministry said travellers in the state of Sabah in east Malaysia face the threat of kidnappings-for-ransom by terrorist groups, who target island resorts and boats ferrying tourists.
Facebook/Tourism Malaysia Sabah

After being included in a list of countries said to pose kidnapping risks for US travellers, Malaysia is demanding its name be removed from the list, and for an American envoy to provide clarifications.

The list, published in a statement on Tuesday (April 9) by the US foreign ministry, introduced a “K” indicator on its travel advisories. The indicator identifies countries with “risks of kidnapping and hostage taking by criminal and terrorist actors”.

In all, 35 countries were tagged with a K indicator, including Malaysia, the Philippines, and Bangladesh, alongside Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and others.

Under Malaysia’s travel advisory, Sabah was specified as a region with increased kidnapping risks.

“There is a threat of kidnappings-for-ransom from both terrorist and criminal groups. These groups may attack with little to no warning, targeting coastal resorts, island resorts, and boats ferrying tourists to resort islands,” the advisory said.

Malaysia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement on Sunday (April 14) that it strongly protested the country’s inclusion on the “‘K’ list”.

Criticising the travel advisory as lacking objectivity, the ministry urged the US to remove it from the list, and said it would summon the US envoy to Malaysia for clarification.

It said that the number of kidnapping incidents in Sabah had dropped to “almost nil” after implementing measures such as increased patrols and security cooperation with neighbouring countries.

The number of tourist arrivals in Sabah had also grown by 5.5 per cent, reaching 3.87 million last year, and the state was known to attract “world-class” divers, the statement added.


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