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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

National security still a priority despite relaxed visa rules


The government has decided to grant 30-day visa-free entry to Chinese and Indian travellers from Dec 1. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has reassured the public that national security remains a priority, following the government’s recent announcement of visa exemptions for several countries.

Anwar, who is also finance minister, said security agencies have been directed to enhance screenings to ensure that the visa exemption poses no threat to national security, reported Bernama.

On Nov 26, Anwar announced that the government had decided to grant 30-day visa-free entry to Chinese and Indian travellers from Dec 1.

The 30-day visa-free entry was granted to Chinese travellers in the spirit of the strategic partnership between Malaysia and China.

“We will relax our visa rules and upgrade existing facilities. Currently, countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the US, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iraq, and Iran, as well as all West Asian nations, including Turkey and Jordan, are already enjoying a visa exemption,” he said.

However, this relaxation of rules would still be subject to security screenings for criminal records.

Separately, Anwar said he had also asked the armed forces (ATM) to manage its assets without interference from outside parties, including the government, following the recurrence of procurement-related issues.

He said this indicated full accountability of ATM in the event of any technical or implementation issues, whereas the government, particularly the finance ministry, would solely engage in negotiations regarding equipment asset costs.

“It’s better for negotiations to be held, not through an agent, but directly with the relevant governments. We have already started with (procurements involving) Turkey, South Korea and Italy. If there is anything to be decided, it is (the agency’s) own decision. For example, the navy decides (for navy assets),” he said when tabling the 2024 supply bill for its second reading in the Dewan Negara.

He also said the downward revision of the entertainment duty rate for the federal territories was not intended to encourage immorality, given that there were still strict conditions that needed to be adhered to. - FMT

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