Sat, Mar 19, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Malaysia grants visa-free privileges

NO. 100:The addition of the Southeast Asian nation means that Taiwanese can now travel to 94% of their most popular tourist spots without needing a visa

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

Malaysia has become the 100th country to grant visa-waiver privileges to Taiwanese citizens, Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) said yesterday.

“The addition of Malaysia means that we have realized our goal of securing visa-waiver privileges for Taiwanese from 100 countries by the end of this year, which also marks our government’s centennial,” Yang said at a press conference.

The 100 countries and areas represent 94 percent of the regions that are the most popular destinations for Taiwanese travelers, he said.

Effective immediately, people who hold a Republic of China (ROC) passport valid for at least six months and a return or onward airline ticket will be allowed to enter Malaysia visa-free for visits of up to 15 days.

“We believe that the measure will be conducive to [Taiwan--Malaysia] economic, trade, culture, education, technology, agriculture and tourism cooperation,” Yang said.

Last year, Taiwanese citizens made 210,000 non-business-related trips to Malaysia. Based on that number, Yang said, Taiwanese travelers would save an estimated NT$50 million (US$1.7 million) annually in visa fees for visits to the Southeast Asian country.

Taiwan has offered visa-free travel to Malaysian citizens since 2002, while Malaysia had offered landing visa privileges to Taiwanese citizens since 2009. However, the privilege was canceled in August last year after Malaysia stopped issuing landing visas across the board in a bid to stem the problem of an illegal inflow of people from China, India and Bangladesh.

Taiwanese authorities had asked Malaysia not to include Taiwan on the list of countries that have abused the program, saying that the vast majority of Taiwanese visitors to the country are relatively wealthy, rather than “migrant workers.”

The ministry said yesterdsay that it would continue negotiating with Kuala Lumpur to extend visa-free stays for ROC passport holders from 15 to 30 days.

Additional reporting by CNA

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