IHT, 8 Dec 2006
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia: Malaysia has stopped issuing visas-on-arrival for Indians flying in from the city of Chennai, saying many from that area have abused tourist visas to work illegally, an official said Friday.
The decision was made after last week's Cabinet meeting and is already in force, said Home Affairs Minister Radzi Sheikh Ahmad.
"The number is alarming, especially from India," particularly among visitors coming from Chennai, Radzi told reporters. Those arriving from other Indian cities will not be affected, he said.
He did not elaborate, saying only that the measure would continue for three months, after which a review will be conducted.
"There are too many of them overstaying from there. Those are the records we have," he said after the launch of new, high-tech identification cards for foreigners in Malaysia.
Radzi also said there also was a problem with women from mainland China overstaying their visas.
"They come here, after one month and they don't go back," he said. "This is the problem."
Malaysia, hoping to attract more Indian tourists, initiated the visa-on-arrival program for them in September.
Radzi said up to 700,000 foreigners were working illegally in Malaysia, while about 1.8 million others, mostly from neighboring countries, have proper papers.
Malaysia is a magnet for low-income Indians looking for better-paying jobs abroad. Many come as tourists, then disappear among the public — which includes a substantial ethnic Indian minority — to work illegally in restaurants and other jobs that most Malaysians shun.