KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia targets to be the third ASEAN country accepted into the United States Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) through the implementation of the National Immigration Control System or SKIN (Sistem Kawalan Imigresen Nasional) by 2021.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the government was optimistic of achieving this mission following the acceptance of Brunei and Singapore into the VWP after implementing the same immigration control system.
“In this matter, so far 38 countries have implemented the system, with all having managed to reduce the risk of entry of negative elements from outside and these countries have obtained the visa waiver from the US.
“At the moment, only two ASEAN countries, Brunei and Singapore, have got it (visa waiver). We hope to be the third ASEAN country to obtain it after implementing the system (SKIN),” he said in reply to a supplementary question from Senator Datuk Mohd Salim Mohd Sharif in the Dewan Negara today.
Ahmad Zahid said the government was optimistic that the implementation of SKIN would help Malaysia to be accepted into the VWP as to date, it had fulfilled six of the seven conditions set to get the visa waiver.
Early this year, Ahmad Zahid was quoted in news reports as saying that only one condition had not been met yet, that was, a visa rejection of less than three per cent while Malaysia’s rejection rate was currently at 3.7 per cent, which meant 0.7 per cent more to go.
To the original question from Senator Datuk Bashir Alias on the advantages of SKIN, he said the implementation of the system could assist the Home Ministry and its agencies to tackle cross-border crime and human smuggling in a systematic and integrated manner.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said SKIN would be integrated into all the existing immigration systems including the Malaysia Immigration System (MyIMMs) and it was expected to generate additional income of about RM800 million for the government after 12 years of operation.
He said while the implementation of SKIN would be in four years’ time, the ministry was always improving the existing system since 20 years ago to ensure the country’s border entry points were safe from infiltration of undesirable elements.
To another question on the need to build a Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex at certain locations along the border areas, especially along the ‘rat’ trails such as at Mundok in Kelantan, Ahmad Zahid said the Home Ministry was seriously viewing that need.
“I wish to inform on the potential of CIQ complexes to be built in such areas to ‘legalise’ the illegal (rat) trails which have become ‘elephant’ trails.
“We will ask the team to study and ensure that these routes become entry/exit points for those with (valid) documents and where there is control and a tax system, so that the smuggling of arms or subsidised goods can be monitored and prevented.”
However, he said, the effort required close cooperation of the state government leaders concerned by setting aside political differences in the interest of the country’s border security. – BERNAMA