Malaysia visit still re­quires a visa

The Myanmar Times - - News - SHOON NAING news­room@mm­times.com

MALAYSIA is keep­ing its visa re­quire­ments for Myan­mar cit­i­zens in place for the fore­see­able fu­ture, Malaysian am­bas­sador to Myan­mar Mohd Han­iff Abd Rah­man has con­firmed.

It is pos­si­ble that, in fu­ture, Myan­mar na­tion­als will be granted hur­dle­free en­try, he told The Myan­mar Times last month, but that will not be any time soon be­cause of is­sues re­lated to il­le­gal mi­grant work­ers and na­tional se­cu­rity con­cerns.

“We are con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties but the Malaysian gov­ern­ment is fac­ing an over­load of mi­grant work­ers, es­pe­cially from Myan­mar,” he said. “We do not want to open up to a flood of il­le­gal work­ers.”

Myan­mar has al­ready signed visa ex­emp­tion mem­o­randa of un­der­stand­ing with Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land, Cam­bo­dia, Laos, Viet­nam, In­done­sia, Brunei and the Philip­pines, mak­ing Malaysia the only re­main­ing ASEAN coun­try that still re­quires Myan­mar cit­i­zens to pay for a visa ap­pli­ca­tion, which is US$57.

Start­ing last month, Malaysia granted 30-day, sin­gle-en­try visas for a few coun­tries, in­clud­ing Myan­mar. ASEAN mem­ber states have been dis­cussing a visa-free travel ar­range­ment since 2006, but to lit­tle avail.

The Myan­mar Times reached out to sev­eral travel agen­cies and two of them con­firmed that they do not pro­vide tour pack­ages to Malaysia un­less cus­tomers specif­i­cally ask for one be­cause there is al­ready a third-party com­pany pro­vid­ing Malaysian visas. Ad­di­tion­ally, the travel rates to other ASEAN coun­tries, like Sin­ga­pore, are higher than to Malaysia.

“Grant­ing the e-visa makes it slightly eas­ier for trav­ellers,” said 7 Days travel com­pany pres­i­dent Daw Hla Darli Khin, “How­ever, we do not pro­vide pack­age ser­vices to Malaysia un­less peo­ple asked for it.”

Start­ing in De­cem­ber, Myan­mar cit­i­zens will be able to travel to Sin­ga­pore for up to 30 days on a free tourist visa. Any­one look­ing to travel there for rea­sons other than tourism, like busi­ness or med­i­cal treat­ment, will need to ap­ply for a dif­fer­ent visa, ac­cord­ing to the deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs’ Con­sular and Le­gal Af­fairs De­part­ment, U Okkar.

A 2016 re­port on visa re­stric­tions ranked Myan­mar 10th from the bot­tom of the list, ty­ing it with North Korea and Bu­rundi.

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