Kuala Lumpur : After 40,000 Indian tourists went "missing" from the country, Malaysia has permanently scrapped the Visa-on-Arrival (VOA) facility offered to visitors from India and other seven countries, saying it was "open to abuse".
The decision to permanently scrap the VOA facility to citizens from eight countries was taken at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers and Illegal Immigrants yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said.
The VOA facility was withdrawn for Indian nationals a couple of years ago after Malaysia complained that many visitors had stayed on illegally after the expiry of their tourist visas. Yassin said despite calls from several quarters for continuing the facility, the Committee felt it needed to be revoked as it "brought certain problems to 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 agreed that the VOA facility be revoked or discontinued," he said.
During an interaction with a group of journalists from India in January, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had said that almost 40,000 Indian nationals have gone "missing" after entering the country through the VOA facility.
The Premier had then felt that the only problematic exit point in India was Chennai and that there was not any problems with tourists from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
Besides India, the VOA facility has been revoked for tourists from China, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Taiwan and Comoros.
Local media reports say thousands of tourists from various countries have abused their VOA, which was introduced in 2006 in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2007, by overstaying. Indians make up for a huge chunk of foreign tourists who visit Malaysia.
The Government suspended the facility for visitors from India following reports that the highest number of VOA abuse involved citizens from that country. PTI