Sri Lanka among thousands abuse Malaysian visa deal: reports

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8, 2006 (AFP) – A visa-on-arrival deal aimed at attracting tourists to Malaysia had allowed thousands of foreigners to overstay in the country, reports said Wednesday. Under a move introduced on September 1, Malaysia has allowed tourists from 24 countries to apply for a visa upon arrival, for a fee of 100 ringgit (27.56 dollars), as part of a campaign to promote 2007 as “Visit Malaysia Year”.

But Home Affairs Minister Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said all of the nearly 3,000 applicants had overstayed their one-month visa, and immigration authorities were having difficulties tracking them down, the Star daily newspaper reported.

“We have been generous to them by charging 100 ringgit and giving them one month to visit the country, but they have taken advantage of our kindness and refused to go home,” Radzi was quoted as saying.

“How (can we) trace them easily — they look like Malays, Indians and Chinese of this country,” he said, referring to Malaysia’s main racial groups.

Some two-thirds of the overstayers were from India, while most of the rest were from China, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the state Bernama news agency reported.

Overstayers in smaller numbers w