KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's foreign ministry on Sunday (Mar 14) called on the United States to remove Malaysia from the "K" list.
The "K" list includes countries where kidnapping and/or hostage taking occurs, according to the US Department of State website.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly protests the decision of the US government to subject Malaysia in the newly introduced ‘K’ indicator,” the ministry said in a statement.
Malaysia's inclusion in the list was announced in an Apr 9 travel advisory, where it stated that travellers should exercise increased caution in the state of Sabah due to kidnapping.
"There is a threat of kidnappings-for-ransom from both terrorist and criminal groups," said the advisory.
"These groups may attack with little to no warning, targeting coastal resorts, island resorts, and boats ferrying tourists to resort islands."
In response, Malaysia said it will summon the US ambassador "to provide clarification" on the new advisory.
The ministry added that the new travel advisory lacked objectivity and did not reflect the reality on the ground, particularly the security situation in eastern Sabah which has remained safe and protected for tourists.
“This is borne by the fact that the number of tourist arrivals in Sabah has grown by 5.5 per cent, 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,” the statement said.
This success was the result of proactive measures taken by the Malaysian government, such as increasing the number of patrols, closer security cooperation with neighbouring countries and the strategic positioning of security assets to secure the areas.
“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."