KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — Damansara MP Tony Pua today called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to scrap the MyTravelPass scheme entirely.
The Opposition lawmaker said those who need to travel overseas faced too much red tape under the scheme.
He argued that the programme is now irrelevant as Malaysia is accelerating its Covid-19 vaccination rate, and highlighted that daily imported cases were far lower compared to local ones.
“The risk is also even lower than that from the government’s travel bubble, as for this, quarantine is required.
“MyTravelPass was implemented at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic when traveling abroad was deemed highly risky, especially when local infection rates were then extremely low and no vaccines were available.
“However, the circumstances have changed dramatically as the risk of foreign-borne infections are today, far lower than local infections, which have been widespread. Based on yesterday’s 15,759 infections, only 27 or less than 0.2 per cent were imported cases,” he said in a news conference in Parliament.
Pua said imported Covid-19 cases were also controlled as those found positive had to undergo stringent quarantine.
As such, he said there is no reason to restrict fully-vaccinated Malaysians from travelling abroad, as long as they are permitted to enter their destination countries.
He added that phasing out or cancelling the MyTravelPass scheme fully, is also a “critical component” for Malaysia’s economic recovery, as it will play a significant part in reviving the ailing airline and travel sectors, which employ thousands.
Pua also echoed Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s statement last week, to review and approve applications directly without having to go through the programme.
“We have received numerous complaints of the bureaucratic process of MyTravelPass applications as well as the somewhat arbitrary process of approving applications. Many have had to undergo the stress, anxiety and uncertainty of rescheduling trips or worse, bearing unnecessary travel expenses due to the application process.
“We hope that the prime minister will expedite the phasing out of MyTravelPass immediately, as a critical step towards economic recovery in the battered travel economy sector,” Pua added.
Last week, Hishamuddin asked the Immigration Department to review the categories of applications to head overseas that can be granted permission directly, without mandating the applications to go through the scheme.
National news agency Bernama reported the Umno lawmaker saying that the directive was issued by the National Security Council and took into account public feedback and views on the MyTravelPass programme.
There are five categories of people who do not need to apply for approval through MyTravelPass to go overseas, namely diplomats and Malaysian Embassy officials returning to work abroad, including their dependents; students and dependents who are continuing their studies provided they have a valid student visa or dependent visa; and long-term pass holders of other countries (permanent resident/ resident pass/ employment pass).
The other two categories comprise those working with petroleum companies and shipping companies who need to sign-on on ships overseas; and those escorting students abroad for study purposes, which is limited to two escorts.
Those who are required to get the MyTravelPass approval are citizens who have just been offered a job or entry into an educational institution abroad; students wishing to sit for examinations abroad; attending meetings/seminars/business affairs abroad; and those participating in exhibitions/ sports competitions/ training abroad, together with a letter of support from the relevant regulatory agency.
The other three categories are emergency affairs concerning immediate family members (death/accident/illness); partner/fiancé visa holder (marriage not legally registered); and those participating in humanitarian/religious aid missions.