Monday, September 26, 2011

Security threat to expo puts dent on Malaysians’ dream holiday abroad

Venting their anger: Some of the tour package customers explaining their ordeal during their trip to China to the tour company operators Sunday. (Photo by Guang Ming Daily)
Source: (By WONG PEK MEI, 26/9/2011)
A dream holiday turned into a nightmare for a group of 80 Malaysians when China's security authorities received threats to sabotage the China-Eurasia Expo held in Urumqi early this month. Their tour agency YangTze Cruise and Tour Sdn Bhd said the company did its best to resolve the logistical problems encountered by the group but claimed its hands were tied. However, businessman Wong Ket Peng, 53 and his wife Wong Sow Fong, 48, who spoke on behalf of the 80 customers from the same tour to Urumqi, described their experience during the 10-day trip from Aug 21 to Sept 5 as “mentally, emotionally and physically torturing”. “On the sixth day of our trip, from Dan Huang to Hami, we had to suffer a heavy traffic jam for more than 24 hours. “We had to sleep in the bus and relieve ourselves in public. It was humiliating. “To add salt to injury, we had no food and drinks as well as accommodation, although we had paid for all these in our tour package which cost RM5,000 to RM7,000. “Due to the delay in reaching Hami, the company cancelled visits to two important tourist spots - Balikun Grassland on the way to Turpan and the International Bazaar at Urumqi,” said Sow Fong, a secretary. The couple were among the customers who held a protest in front of company's office at Jalan Pinggir yesterday. She said their tour guide offered them compensation of RMB55 (RM27.25) each for the cancelled visits, food and accommodation. “But this is simply not enough for what we had to endure,” she added.
Yesterday, the group, along with Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng, met company president Tan Han Soong. Lim said he would help them file a formal complaint to MATTA as it was in the position to intervene and resolve the issue.
Tan said the company did not realise there would be heavy traffic on the Silk Road where the group was travelling due to the threats to the expo, which was launched by China's Vice-Premier Li Keqiang. International media reported an increase in security, including checks made in the trunks of cars and searches of bags in public areas in Urumqi, the capital of China's northwestern Xinjiang Autonomous Region, during the five-day expo. “Security was heightened due to rumours of terrorist attacks. So our customers were stuck on the road between 16 and 30 hours,” he said. He said the company tried to send supplies, but it was impossible due to road closures.
Tan said he would leave the matter to the Tribunal Court to decide if the group resorted to taking the case there.


Anonymous said...

We were a group of peoples who joined Yangtze on 19-12-2010 to China Beijing and we experienced the similar situation with them. If MP wish to know in detail, kindly contact Chris 019-3803650. TQ

Anonymous said...

Chinese security forces 'foil sabotage plots against Xinjiang trade fair'
Man held taking knife on to plane as China-Eurasia Expo in Urumqi targeted, says city party boss

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Associated Press in Beijing, Thursday 1 September 2011 13.38 BST
Article history

Paramilitary police patrol outside the China-Eurasia Expo exhibition hall in Urumqi. Photograph: AP
Chinese security forces have foiled several plots to sabotage an international trade fair in the turbulent region of Xinjiang, according to officials.

Urumqi's Communist Party boss Zhu Hailun said police had dealt with a number of threats to public safety in recent weeks in the run-up to the China-Eurasia Expo, which has opened in Urumqi, the regional capital.

One man attempted to take a knife on board a flight departing from Urumqi airport and is now being held on suspicion of planning to carry out an attack during the flight, according to a report by the official Xinhua News Agency.

"There have been many similar cases of attacks being blocked by police," said Zhu.

Guests at the expo include Pakistan's president, Asif Ali Zardari, and Kyrgyzstan's caretaker president, Roza Otunbayeva. The exhibition is aimed at cementing Urumqi's status as central Asia's trade hub, despite a sometimes violent insurgency among its native Muslim population.

Zhu said: "Separatists, religious extremists and terrorists have been plotting to sabotage the expo." He did not elaborate.

Vice-premier Li Keqiang formally opened the exhibition with no reports of disturbances.

Security in Xinjiang has been ramped up for the five-day trade fair, with SWAT units deployed and a low-altitude no-fly zone declared over the city. Even racing pigeons are banned.

Travellers flying to Urumqi from Beijing, Shanghai and other cities are facing more security checks and delays.

Zhu was appointed to his position after deadly riots in the city among Xinjiang's native Muslim Uighur population in 2009 and is expected to maintain stability while selling Urumqi as the region's business hub.

Xinjiang is under a two-month crackdown against violence, terrorism and radical Islam following renewed unrest among Uighurs, ethnic Turks who are culturally, linguistically and religiously distinct from China's majority Han.

In addition to the security forces, Zhu said 20,000 community workers have been employed in Urumqi to monitor the city's population and report suspected unrest. Each of the city's 550 communities has been allocated 160,000 yuan (£15,000) annually to support their efforts, he said.

"We are able to handle any kind of emergencies immediately, preventing the violence from spreading and the mob from growing," Zhu said.

Militant Uighurs have been fighting a low-level insurgency for decades to gain independence for lightly populated but resource-rich Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan, Afghanistan and several unstable central Asian states.

At least three dozen people, including the attackers, were killed in three recent raids in the cities of Hotan and Kashgar, despite a massive security presence that was tightened after riots in Urumqi two years ago in which at least 197 people were killed.

Beijing blames the violence on militants based overseas, specifically those from the East Turkistan Islamic Movement who it says trained in militant camps in Pakistan. No group has claimed responsibility and Beijing has provided no direct evidence to back its claims.