Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Doing away with restricted travel in Malaysia

It took the comment of an ex-Prime Minister to make things change without being shot down, that’s what the scenario looks like over here. During Tun Dr Mahathir’s recent visit to Sabah recently has put an untouchable agenda which incidentally is one of the 20 points stipulated in the Malaysia agreement (the right of controlled citizenry access from Peninsular into the Borneo territories) on the table for the politicians to digest. Recently various issues concerning the various powers vested to Sabah and Sarawak during the formulation of Malaysia has been given light, these include the relaxation of restrictions for Peninsular professionals for entry into Sabah jobs, calls for a review on the 20 Point agreement itself, the resumption of ferry services between Peninsular and Borneo, the increased involvement of Petronas in the oil and gas industry in Sabah, the lack of development allocation for the two states as compared to those in Peninsular under the Ninth Malaysia Plan and most recently is the issue of citizenry movement within Malaysia.

We have been a single nation since 1964 yet to date it looks as if we are still miles apart in integrating the states into a single unit. Sabah and Sarawak have the rights to what has been agreed to under the Malaysia agreement and I agree that there are certain points they need to have control over to protect their interests. Yet the requirement of passports or the filling up of IMM14 immigration form for Peninsular citizens entering the two states is an archaic legacy with no useful purpose in controlling travel as well as take up time and resources of both passenger and immigration staff. Thus it is a welcome note to hear the statement that travel from now on would only require MyKad for entry. It is logical to allow the free flow of travelers, visitors and tourists who wish to visit the state and there are other means of control if the state wishes to avoid competition of jobs within such as work permits. Freeing the hassle to travelers would ensure a freer movements and less of a hassle in the airports as well as encourage tourism within the states. It's true that no Peninsular visitors have been turned away but if that is so why the need to maintain the system? Besides if there are trouble makers arriving into the state there are adequate existing laws to deal with them or else deport them out of the state without immgeration forms.

So far on and we still have so many barriers, maybe it is time we look at ourselves as Malaysians and look into areas for better integration which is not detrimental to the state’s interests. Doing away with travel restrictions is a step ahead. Sarawak has already pledged to implement the policy by next year while politicians in Sabah are still hesitant about the issue preferring to state that ‘the people’s views should be looked into first before changes are carried out’ but agreed to it in the end. I guess the passport chop I have in my passport when I first arrive here in Kota Kinabalu to study in UMS will be a keepsake from now on.


Lucia Lai said...

yes, for the life of me, i can't understand why we need passport to enter sabah when sabah is part of malaysia. i mean it kind of sound/look silly, isn't it, passport to enter another state of your country.

has this (doing away with passport) been enforced already? or going to?

Kervin said...

Sarawak says it will implement it by next year while Sabah has no clear date of implementation yet though they have agreed to it. Its a matter of how long they take to install the card readers and train their staff in the usage. Means we're in a long way before things will be in place. Yet in the long run it will save administrative costs as well as ease passenger handling at the airports.

q said...

so... surreal, i've always thought, that malaysians need passports to travel within malaysia. and kind of embarassing to explain to foreign friends ;-)