Malaysia confident US will continue with visa waiver programme, DPM says

US Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir poses for a picture with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at his office in Putrajaya January 27, 2017. — Reuters pic
US Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir poses for a picture with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at his office in Putrajaya January 27, 2017. — Reuters pic

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 27 — Malaysia today expressed confidence that the new United States administration of President Donald Trump will continue with the US Visa Waiver Programme for Malaysia. 

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysia had fulfilled all except one of the stipulated conditions. 

The yet unfulfilled condition, set by the US Department of State, involved maintaining the percentage of rejected visa applications at below three per cent, said Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister.  Right now, the rate of rejection was 3.7 per cent, and Malaysia was confident of fulfilling the three per cent condition by September 2018, he said. 

“We have just 0.7 per cent to go to meet the condition. The rejections are due to technical and procedural reasons, not on the question of security,” he said to reporters after the pinning of honourary ranks for People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) members from the Home Ministry Top Management Council, here. 

Earlier, the new US Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir paid a courtesy call on Ahmad Zahid at his office.  

Lakhdhir had taken up her post on Jan 5, succeeding Joseph Yun whose tour of duty ended in October last year. 

Ahmad Zahid said that based on their discussions, Lakhdhir was committed to conveying Malaysia’s message on the US visa waiver programme to the new US administration. 

“I reckon the message is loud and clear and she showed that she is very committed,” he said. 

Malaysia expressed its desire to participate in the US Visa Waiver Programme during talks between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the then US President Barack Obama when he visited Malaysia in April 2014. 

The programme will enable Malaysians to enter and stay in the United States without a visa for a maximum of 90 days for tourism and business. 

On other matters discussed at their meeting, Ahmad Zahid said Lakhdhir would return to Washington DC to get an input on the new US policies and to meet all the newly appointed ambassadors. 

Ahmad Zahid expressed confidence that the matters he had discussed with Lakhdhir would see continuation although President Trump would be introducing new policies. — Bernama