PUTRAJAYA: The visa-on-arrival (VOA) facility offered to visitors from eight countries has been scrapped permanently because it is open to abuse, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
He said despite calls by several quarters for the facility to be continued, the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers and Illegal Immigrants felt that it needed to be revoked as it brought certain problems for the country.
“In the past, we gave flexibility to several nations. If their citizens came to this country and they didn’t have a visa, one could be issued at the entry point.
“We have noticed that this was being abused. We (the Cabinet committee) agreed that the VOA facility be revoked or discontinued,” he said after chairing the committee meeting here yesterday.
It has been reported that thousands of tourists have abused their VOA, which was introduced in 2006 in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2007, by overstaying.
The facility was extended to tourists from China, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Taiwan and Comoros.
In February, the Government suspended the facility for visitors from India following reports that the highest number of VOA abuse involved citizens from that country.
Last January, Prime Minsiter Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had expressed concern over the “disappearance” of almost 40,000 Indian nationals who had entered the country through the VOA facility.
On another matter, Muhyiddin said it was up to the Prime Minister to decide whether or not Cabinet ministers should publicly declare their assets.
“We already declare our assets to the Prime Minister. We do not simply make a declaration, we make a statutory declaration.
“Any new measure needs to be studied first and even then it is a decision for the Prime Minister to make,” he said.
Muhyiddin was commenting on a statement by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed recently that he agreed with former Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan’s call for Cabinet members to declare their assets to the public in the interest of transparency.