Thursday, 7th February, 2002
Malaysia Remains Safest To Visit

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia remains as one of the safest countries in the world to visit despite recent incidents of disturbances by foreign workers in the country.

Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said the ongoing crackdown to nab trouble makers among foreign workers especially illegal immigrants would not have an impact on the tourism industry.

He said the government's action against trouble-making Indonesian workers and potential foreign trouble makers, notably Africans, was to ensure the country was sage and sound.

"I don't think it has an impact on tourism," he told reporters Wednesday.

Kadir said the government's action against illegal immigrants also focused on their involvement in criminal activities, opening up land and building squatter houses.

On Jan 17, about 500 Indonesian workers at a textile factory in Nilai staged a rampage damaging police vehicles and other property in protest over the arrest of 16 of their colleagues tested positive for drug addiction.

Five days later, rival Indonesian groups from Acheh clashed in Dengkil, Selangor.

Following the incidents, Malaysia decided to make Indonesia as the last option when recruiting foreign workers. Yesterday, the government announced a new policy that the employment of Indonesians would be limited to only two sectors - plantation and as housemaids in a move to reduce their numbers.

Kadir said statistics also proved that Malaysia is one of the safest countries in the world based on the crimes committed in the country.

"We know the situation in this country is really safe and peaceful. We don't have armed uprising, we have zero strikes and Malaysians are not in enmity with anyone and there is no tension with any country although there are differences in opinion over the American Palestinian conflict," he said.

On the crackdown against Africans, Kadir said initial investigations showed most of them are not genuine tourists.

"I don't think it has an impact on our tourism industry. If at all we are worried with our tourist arrivals is the prolonged global recession," he added.