Saturday, September 28, 2002

Canada’s visa ruling unfair to Malaysia, says Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has expressed disappointment over Canada’s move to revoke the visa exemption for Malaysians visitors.
“It’s unfair to Malaysians and to the Government which has taken serious action in clamping down terrorist activities here,” he said.
If Canada wanted to know from Malaysia of anyone whom they suspected as militants or terrorists, the Canadian security forces could have asked their Malaysian counterparts for information, he said.
“But they did not. If they want to know of anyone whom they think are terrorists, they can exchange information with us.
“If we were informed of anyone who is suspected as militant or terrorists, then we can bar these people from coming into Malaysia,” he said when asked to comment on Canada’s imposition of visa requirement for Malaysians, which came into force on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters after giving a talk on “Malaysia’s Security and Defence Policy” at the armed forces defence college at the Defence Ministry here yesterday, Najib also said Malaysia’s decision to purchase new weapons including missiles and air defence systems was solely meant to protect the country’s sovereignty and not to threaten its neighbours.
“While one or two types of our new weapons can be used in an offensive manner, Malaysia has no intention to threaten other countries.
“But we will protect ourselves from foreign attacks, and at the same time we have the capability to counter-attack if anyone tries to threaten us,” he added.
The Defence Ministry signed two deals in April to purchase the British-made Jernas and Igla missile systems from Russia.

Sept 27, 2002

Canada visa ruling on Malaysians
not due to US pressure

Kuala Lumpur, Sept 27, IRNA -- Canada's decision to impose a visa requirement for Malaysian visitors is not connected to "pressure" from the US Government, said Canadian High Commissioner to Malaysia Jean McCloskey.
She said although her country shared a long border with the United States, "we have a different immigration policy."
"We make our (visa) exemption decisions based on the interest of Canadians and the integrity of the Canadian immigration programme. "We have no plans to have an identical programme with that of the United States," she said in a statement on Friday.
She was commenting on wire reports from Ottawa linking her government's visa exemption revocation on Malaysians as being made due to pressure from US authorities, who have imposed tighter and longer visa vetting procedures for Malaysians and many Muslim nations following the Sept 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
With Canada's decision to revoke visa exemptions for Malaysians effective Tuesday, Malaysia joins a list of 146 countries in the Canadian visa requirement list.
Among the countries that join the list since December are Dominica, Grenada, Hungary, Kiribati, Nauru, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Zimbabwe and Saudi Arabia. Singapore and Brunei are now the only countries in Southeast Asia still enjoying Canadian visa exemption.
McCloskey, who explained her government's visa exemption revocation on Malaysians on CNN on Thursday, said the move was not anti-Muslim as alleged by certain quarters as apart from Hungary, other European countries like Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Rumania and Russia were also on the list.
"We value our relations with Malaysia and we will do everything in our power to ensure that the new visa programme will be handled efficiently," she added.
The high commission's senior trade officer, Ron Bollman, said he did not think that the visa ruling would affect trade ties between both countries.
"Malaysian businessmen can always apply for a five-year multiple entry visa to Canada," he added.
Malaysia is currently Canada's largest two-way trading partner in Asean with an annual trade balance of between RM6 billion (US$1.58 billion) and RM7.2 bil lion (US$1.89 billion).
Annual Canadian imports from Malaysia total about RM4.8 billion (US$1.26 billion), which is the largest amount from the Asean region.
Meanwhile, Mexican Ambassador to Malaysia Alfredo Perez-Bravo said Malaysians intending to visit his country must obtain "tourist migratory forms" from his embassy here.
"It's only a form and not a visa. Mexico decided unilaterally in 1994 not to require visas for Malaysians, although Mexicans still require visas to come here," he said, as quoted by the Bernama News agency.
He added that Malaysians who did not carry the forms would have problems entering Mexico from the United States or Canada, which form North America with Mexico.

Tuesday, 24 September 2002

Canada refuses to overturn visa rule for Malaysia

OTTAWA, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Canada said on Tuesday it would not reverse a decision compelling Malaysian visitors to apply for visas and dismissed Kuala Lumpur's complaints that Ottawa was fanning anti-Moslem feelings.
"No, there won't be any (reversal)," Immigration Minister Denis Coderre said when asked about reports that Malaysia wanted a review of the decision.
Ottawa announced on Monday that Malaysian visitors would need visas effective Wednesday to enter the country because the country's passports were vulnerable to abuse.
An angry Kuala Lumpur said the decision would only stoke "anti-Moslem hysteria" and complained that Canada had not consulted it beforehand.
"We have some standards to follow. We don't have any racial profiling in our country...I don't buy that at all. It's not a good argument," Coderre told reporters.
Ottawa, which has come under persistent U.S. pressure to tighten security, imposed the same visa measures earlier this month on visitors from Saudi Arabia. Most of the hijackers who took part in the Sept. 11 suicide attacks had Saudi passports.
Malaysian citizens had hitherto been able to enter Canada on a visa waiver program. Malaysians and Saudis already need visas to enter the United States.