No plans to stop Chinese tourists coming to Malaysia, PM says

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrives at the Chinese New Year open house organised by Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has no plans yet to restrict or review visas for Chinese tourists but will monitor them closely upon arrival, said Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“At the moment, we are examining tourists coming here, especially from China. We will not block them but we will check them,” he told reporters after attending a Chinese New Year open house event at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall here.

Mahathir noted that China had imposed strict restrictions on its citizens flying out of the country.

The 11 million residents of Wuhan, China, the ground zero where the virus was first reported, were also under quarantine, Mahathir added.

He was asked if the government would review the policy on Chinese tourists who are given a free visa for up to 15 days in conjunction with Visit Malaysia 2020.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali celebrate Chinese New Year with DAP’s Liew Chin Tong and Teresa Kok (third and fourth left) as well as members from the KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.

He also said the three Chinese citizens confirmed as having the new SARS-like virus would be quarantined to stop the spread of the disease.

He advised Malaysians to wear masks when among crowds.

Mahathir said immigration checks, including scanning of those entering the country, from the early stages of news of the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, had helped the government control the situation.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad, his deputy Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali looking at Chinese calligraphy.Mahathir said the 15-day visa was issued by Putrajaya for Chinese tourists before the news of the coronavirus was reported, adding that China had also given Malaysians a three-year visa.

He said the spread of any virus had to be handled cautiously as more and more people were travelling worldwide, and some passengers were bringing along animals into Malaysia.

“If we are not careful, we are also open to these (types) of dangerous diseases,” he said.

So far the virus has killed 41 people in China and has spread to many countries, including the United States, Singapore and Thailand.