Malaysia hasn’t made decision on Taiwan visa-free privilege

By Joseph Yeh,The China Post

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said the Malaysian government has not made its final decision on whether to grant Taiwan passport holders a visa-free privilege.

“According to our understanding, the Malaysian government is moving toward the direction [of granting visa-free entry to Taiwanese],” said MOFA spokesman James Chang yesterday in a regular briefing.

The government officials were only holding discussions on how to implement the visa-waiver program.

Chang’s comment was in response to a Malaysian newspaper report Wednesday, which had one of their Cabinet members quoted as saying Malaysia had decided to lift the ban on landing visas to Republic of China passport holders, instead of granting visa-free treatment.

Malaysia canceled visas on arrival for citizens of all countries on Aug. 15 last year, claiming that many visitors had abused the privilege and overstayed the visas they received.

The move had angered local lawmakers, who jointly urged the government to stop granting visa-free treatment to Malaysian passport holders in response.

Taiwan has allowed Malaysians to visit Taiwan without a visa since 2002. The MOFA’s latest comment came only two days after a MOFA senior official declared Tuesday that the East Asian country is likely to grant Taiwanese travelers visa-free treatment by the end of March

Matthew Lee, director-general of the ministry’s Department of East Asian & Pacific Affairs, previously said Malaysia is expected to grant Taiwanese travelers visa-free treatment by the end of March, and Australia is also very likely to offer electronic travel authority (ETA) services online by the end of June. The Malaysian Cabinet has reached a consensus to grant Taiwanese visitors visa-free treatment, and an official announcement could be made in the first quarter, according to Lee.