PUTRAJAYA, Jan 22 – More than 300 Chinese nationals have used Malaysia as a transit point on their way to join the Islamic State (IS) militant group in Syria and Iraq, Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi revealed today. They had moved on to a third country from Malaysia prior to entering Syria and Iraq, he said, adding that this was disclosed to him by China’s Vice Minister of Public Security Meng Hongwei at a meeting at his office here today.
Ahmad Zahid said Kuala Lumpur and Beijing viewed seriously this security threat and were committed to curbing it in a more comprehensive manner. “Although there exists an arrangement between Malaysia and China to combat terrorism through counter-terrorism measures, this problem is serious.
“This is because ties exist at the international level between terrorists in China and those in other countries in the Southeast Asian region,” he told reporters after Meng had called on him. Asked about the possibility of these Chinese nationals having ties with Malaysians, Ahmad Zahid said no information had been received on that.
On another matter, the minister said there had been no proposal or discussion yet on the issuing of visas free to tourists from other countries besides China. When announcing measures to strengthen Malaysia’s economic resilience yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had said visas would be issued free to tourists, including from China.
Ahmad Zahid said tourists from China visiting Malaysia still had to apply for a visa but they were exempted from having to pay the fee of 80 Yuan Renminbi (RM46.45). He said the Cabinet decided that an official announcement on the free-visa measure would be made after all rules and conditions had been refined by the Malaysian Immigration Department. “We will make an official announcement at the Malaysian embassy and consulates general in China,” he said.