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40,000 Indians 'disappear' in Malaysia, visa on arrival scrapped

world Updated: Aug 03, 2010 18:48 IST

IANS
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Malaysia revoked its visa on arrival (VOA) facility for Indians after 40,000 visitors from India "abused" it and "disappeared", Deputy Prime Minister Muhyideein Yassin has said.

The cases of Indians abusing the scheme topped the list of unauthorised immigrants from eight South Asian nations and China to whom the VOA was offered.

The facility has now been "scrapped permanently", The Star newspaper reported on Tuesday quoting the deputy prime minister.

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 in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

Apart from Indians, the facility was extended to tourists from China, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myan­mar, Taiwan and Comoros.

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.

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, prior to his India visit, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had also expressed concern over the "disappearance" of almost 40,000 Indians who had entered the country through the VOA.

Multi-ethnic Malaysia is home to 1.7 million ethnic Indians. Many have problems registering themselves as voters. They are denied the Mykad, the national identity card.

In a related development, Election Commission deputy chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said online registration was "risky, costly and unnecessary".

"It is not easy to set up online registration because there will be many loopholes for people to cheat and it's difficult to check who is registering for whom," he said.