KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 — Former International Trade and Industry (Miti) deputy minister Dr Ong Kian Ming today urged the government to reconsider its decision of a total ban on citizens from India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The DAP lawmaker said there are foreign nationals from 23 countries working and living in Malaysia who have left behind children and spouses and this blanket ban could mean that they would be separated indefinitely until the ban is lifted.

“Instead, the government should strengthen its SOPs (standard operating procedures) and (only) allow foreigners from ‘red zones’ with valid reasons and proper documents to enter Malaysia after undergoing a proper quarantine process,” he said in a statement today.

The Bangi MP also cited economic reasons where such a blanket ban could affect many ongoing foreign direct investment (FDI).

He pointed out countries such as the United States, France, Germany, the UK and India which are high FDI countries of destination for investments in Malaysia.

“Foreign professionals and expatriates will not be able to come to Malaysia to finish setting up manufacturing facilities and to oversee the running of these operations.

“New FDI opportunities would also be prevented from taking place if high-level executives from these countries are not allowed to enter Malaysia to evaluate the possibility of setting up manufacturing facilities, shared service centres of excellence and data centres in Malaysia, just to name a few examples.

“Even citizens with passports from one of these 23 countries who may be working from their regional headquarters in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan or China, all of which have less than 150,000 cases, would also be prevented from entering Malaysia,” he added. 

Ong was commenting on the ban announcement made by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Tuesday which will commence on September 7 for countries with more than 150,000 total Covid-19 cases including the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, France, Spain, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Bangladesh.

Ismail said that this ban will also include citizens from these countries who are Permanent Residents in Malaysia, those who hold Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) status, expatriates with valid work permits in Malaysia including those with Professional Visitors Passes (PVP), those with residential passes, spouses of Malaysians who hold spouse visas and students who have valid student visas to study in Malaysia.

He said securing Malaysia's borders to prevent unexpected increases in the number of Covid-19 cases is of utmost importance.

Ong said so far there has been no official press statement or circular from the Foreign Ministry or the National Security Council (NSC) to explain the policies with regard to this blanket ban, more than two days after this policy was announced.

“This shows that the announcement of this policy was not well thought through and not well coordinated among the various ministries in the government,” he said.