KUALA LUMPUR: The tourism, arts and culture ministry (Motac) has stressed that it is neither appropriate nor effective for now to tighten the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the entry of travellers from other countries, including China.
Minister Tiong King Sing said the people’s safety and health would remain a priority for the ministry but when it comes to the entry of travellers from various countries, including China, it was important to strike a balance with the people’s well-being and the country’s economic interests.
“So far, we have retained the status quo and will continue to monitor developments from time to time.
“If there is a change in the situation or an urgent need, of course we will ensure more stringent SOPs,” he said in a statement today.
He said based on facts, the US recorded 99 million infections and 1.08 million deaths due to Covid-19 while China recorded 31,000 deaths with 10.16 million positive cases.
“That’s why, if we look at neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia, they have not tightened the entry of travellers from China.
“At the same time, there are questions about the arrival of travellers from the US, Japan, Korea and France which have also recorded a high number of infections.
“Considering China’s population of 1.4 billion, the death rate due to the pandemic is 0.002%. The number of Covid-19 infections in Malaysia is 5.02 million, with 0.7% deaths recorded.”
Tiong said Malaysia had received travellers from around the world before this although they were from countries with a high rate of Covid-19 infections.
“We are thankful because the Covid-19 situation in Malaysia can be considered to be under control.
“In fact, China has also passed the Covid-19 infection surge phase. So tightening the existing SOPs is not appropriate or effective for now.”
He said the RM30 billion revenue from tourism receipts mentioned earlier was to show the importance of tourism and its economic value, specifically involving travellers from China.
“This is also in line with the expected increase in Chinese travellers to Malaysia, from three million in 2019 to about six million this year,” he said.
Tiong said the issue of discrimination must be taken seriously, and he also made comparisons between other countries which are likely to be high-risk for Covid-19 spread in the country.
He said what had been raised before was to ensure that Malaysia does not discriminate against travellers from any country, including China.
“It is important to maintain diplomatic relations between Malaysia and foreign countries, especially our trading partners,” he said.