KUALA LUMPUR: The government has decided to relax its visa-free conditions on China tourists, enabling a minimum of two people to enter Malaysia on such conditions.
The government had previously stipulated that visa-free entry for China nationals would only be allowed for groups of at least 20 people.
Announcing this today, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz said the previous condition by the Immigration Department had been reviewed following a discussion with the Home Ministry.
Other conditions set to be enforced next month include a group tourist registration system; limiting their stay in Malaysia to 15 days; requiring them to have a return ticket to China; and for them to have direct entry to a Malaysian airport.
The groups are also prohibited from applying for any other passes, Nazri told the Dewan Rakyat.
Nazri said the Chinese government had also asked that Malaysia screen its nationals before being granted entry for security reasons.
“This is because in the Bangkok bombing incident several months ago, it was discovered that a Chinese national was linked to the bombing.
“If it can happen in Bangkok, it can also happen in Malaysia. As such, we need to take all precautions to scan those entering Malaysia,” he said.
On claims that Chinese nationals were being asked to pay an entry fee of between RM500 and RM1,000 to Immigration officials in airports, he advised them to lodge a report at the tourism office there.
"I will also instruct our tourism director in China to advise tourists to directly lodge a report with us. If the claim is true, it is an embarrassment," he said.
On a different matter, he said the ministry had supported the calls for Akademi Seni dan Warisan Kebangsaan (Aswara) to be upgraded to Universiti P. Ramlee by next year as appreciation for the legend's contribution in arts and culture.
He also maintained his stand in allowing the Vivekananda Ashram building in Brickfields to be gazetted as a heritage site.