Sat, 04 Jun 1994

Visa to Malaysia

At the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta, there is a dedicated counter to handle visa applications for nationals from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal; in essence, the citizens of the Indian subcontinent.

My wife's cousin from Bangalore, India and two of her friends recently visited us in Jakarta. They wished to stop over in Johore, Malaysia on their return trip from Indonesia to India. In this context, they called the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta and inquired on how they could obtain a tourist visa for a few days. The Embassy advised that they could not provide a visa but a 72 hour entry permit could be considered. This suited their purposes and they visited the embassy the next morning. After spending about a half-hour filling up the requisite application forms, they took them to the counter, The staff in attendance at that time, summarily dismissed their application stating that they did not have a confirmed air ticket out of Malaysia. No amount of explanation to the effect, that they just wished to cross the causeway by public transport and return by Singapore to Bombay, would convince the counter staff otherwise.

What is the need for an air ticket out of Malaysia, when all they wished was to visit a relation in Johore Bahru and its immediate environs. The reason for the rejection of their application was quite clear; they happened to be Indian nationals and that in the eyes of Malaysian authorities, was adequate grounds for rejection.

It is indeed a sorry state of affairs that in these days of globalization and more significantly during "Visit Malaysia Year", that such summary dismissals based on nationality are allowed to occur. When my wife's cousin pleaded for reason, the counter staff person just stated that "Visit Malaysia Year" applied to nationals from other countries.

As one who has lived and studied in Malaysia in the 1960's my fond memories of that country are soured by this type of experience. I do hope that there can be some effort to at least be judicious and discrete on how visa applications for the nationals of the sub-continent are handled and that this high handed episode is not routine practice.