14 June 2002

Malaysia gives Africa the cold shoulder

Kuala Lumpur: Citizens from 26 African countries will be barred from arriving in Malaysia through land and sea borders under tough new regulations published on Friday.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung said they would also be required to deposit a security bond of 2 000 ringgit ($526) for a social visit visa valid for 14 days.
The deposit would be forfeited if they committed any offence during their stay, which could not be extended.
"They will not be allowed to come into Malaysia via our land borders. They must fly into the country," Chor told the New Straits Times in a report confirmed by a home ministry representative.
Some 4 000 Africans enter the country each month, the paper said, with many crossing the land border into Malaysia from neighbouring Thailand.
The new restrictions follow a major sweep against Africans, codenamed "Ops Black Crow", in the capital Kuala Lumpur in February, which targeted alleged con-artists, criminals and "drunken troublemakers".
More than 200 Africans were arrested but most later escaped from police, who were accused by local newspapers of being "intimidated by well-muscled black men".
Previously, Africans from almost all countries on the continent had been entitled to visa-free access to this Southeast Asian nation.
The New Straits Times said the countries affected by the new restrictions include: Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, the two Congos, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda and Senegal.
Citizens of South Africa, some East African countries and North Africa would be exempt from the requirements because they did not usually cause any problems in the country, Chor told the newspaper.
-- AFP