PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was denied entry into Japan because the recent visa abolishment for Malaysians is not applicable to former convicts.
As Anwar had been convicted in 1999, he should have applied for a visa or filed an appeal for special permission to enter Japan upon arrival at the airport, said a Japan Embassy senior official.
Anwar, he said, had neither applied for a visa, nor exercised his other option of filing an appeal at the airport.
“All this unnecessary hassle could have been averted had Anwar followed procedure in accordance with the Japanese Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act,” said the official.
He said this in response to Anwar’s claim that he was forced to leave Japan immediately after arriving at the Narita Airport on Sunday morning.
The Embassy official said the visa abolishment for Malaysians that took effect in July last year was only applicable to ordinary people who had not been convicted or imprisoned for more than a year
“In the case of Anwar, he was arrested in 1998 for corruption when he was serving as the Deputy Prime Minister, and was sentenced to six years in prison (for abuse of power).
“All those legal things had been explained to Anwar at the Narita Airport on Jan 19.
“After the explanation, Anwar did not exercise his option to file an appeal to get special permission to enter Japan.
He instead decided to return to Malaysia,” he said, adding that it can take up to two days to process such an appeal.
On Anwar’s claim that he had no problem entering Japan in the past even after the 1999 conviction, the official said Anwar had then applied for visa in April 2011 and June 2012.
“But, Anwar did not submit any written request for visa application prior to his recent travel to Japan.
“If we had known he (Anwar) is visiting Japan, and had his office submitted a letter of application before hand, this (problem) would not have happened,” he said, adding they could have granted permission based on diplomatic consideration.
On Anwar’s claim that his office had sought clearance from the Japanese Embassy in Malaysia, the official said they could not trace any written request.
The official also expressed disappointment against a group of Anwar supporters who burnt placards bearing the Japanese flag when staging a protest outside the Embassy yesterday.
PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil, however, is insisting that Anwar did make enquiries to the embassy and the Japanese Foreign Ministry regarding the special permission but was told that he would not need it.