Muhyiddin pushes US to offer Malaysians visa waiver

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says he has suggested a Malaysia-US joint committee to study the proposal for a visa waiver.

WASHINGTON: Malaysia has revived its request for Malaysian citizens to be allowed to visit the United States under the visa waiver programme.

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said he discussed the matter during a meeting with the acting secretary of US Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan here.

Muhyiddin said he had also requested for the matter to be looked into by higher-ups in the US administration, and hoped it would be considered by the president himself.

“McAleenan has agreed to take it to the higher level at my request, but before that, we need to take into account the things that have so far been a hindrance, in terms of additional criteria and conditions,” he told Bernama.

The meeting, as well as the visit to the Terrorist Screening Center, were part of the agenda in Muhyiddin’s working visit to Washington DC aimed at strengthening security cooperation between the two countries.

Muhyiddin said he had also submitted a recommendation to form a special committee or task force comprising representatives from Malaysia and the United States to sit together and examine the various matters or conditions which need to be met.

“We will follow up to discuss further at the officers level on how the committee will be formed,” said the minister who arrived here on Sunday.

Muhyiddin, who is scheduled to continue his visit to New York on Wednesday, said a reasonable timeline should also be set to finalise the matter.

“If it can’t be within a year, maybe two years. But if they (the US) say it will take longer, then we have to find out why it needs to take a longer time.

“If it takes longer than that, then Malaysians who wish to visit the United States will have to apply for a visa, while there are many other countries that we (Malaysians) can visit without a visa,” he said.

He noted that Malaysians now needed to obtain visas to enter the US for purposes such as tourism, trade and business.

He said other issues he discussed with McAleenan included those involving counter-terrorism, human trafficking and migrants.

They also touched on the exchange of information to enhance Malaysia’s security as well as for the benefit of the US.