Sun, Jan 02, 2011 - Page 2 News List

MOFA mum on Malaysian report

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday refused to comment on a report that quoted a Taiwanese diplomat as saying the Malaysian Government has agreed to grant Taiwanese tourists visa-waiver privileges in the near future.

Sin Chew Daily, a Chinese-language newspaper in Malaysia, reported on Friday that Taiwan’s representative to the country, Lo Yu-chung (羅由中), had passed the information to Taiwan’s government and legislature.

Ministry spokesman James Chang (章計平) said yesterday that the ministry understood the paper had interviewed Lo and that he had also read the report, but he had no comment on the content.

The matter has been an issue of concern for lawmakers since Malaysia stopped issuing landing visas across the board in August to prevent foreign migrant workers from many countries from abusing the landing-visa system.

“We have clearly expressed our concern over the matter to the Malaysian Government and it has treated this seriously. Lo has also actively pushed for [Taiwan’s inclusion on Malaysia’s visa-waiver list],” Chang said.

Some estimates have put the number of illegal immigrants in Malaysia at as many as 2 million, while Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) had ruled out speculation that the change targeted Taiwan as a result of China’s influence.

Taiwan did not withdraw the visa-free treatment that has been granted to Malaysian passport holders since 2002, although lawmakers have said they may withdraw it if the ministry fails to convince the country to treat Taiwanese citizens reciprocally.

The latest pressure on the ministry came two weeks ago when Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) vowed to propose a legislative resolution to revoke visa-free -privileges for Malaysians if the situation is not resolved before Feb. 1.

The Sin Chew Daily said Lo denied a recent Chinese-language China Times report that Malaysia would be removed from the Taiwan’s visa-waiver list if the country still refuses to provide Taiwanese with visa-waiver status within two months.

Lo was quoted by Sin Chew Daily as saying the ministry had not set such a time constraint and that his office would try to get as much time as possible for Malaysia to decide the matter as long as things were moving forward.

According to the ministry, Malaysia receives 200,000 Taiwanese tourists a year on average.

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