IND22_030417_PM

Malaysia-India relations 
at ‘historic high’

KUALA LUMPUR — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi say relations between their two countries are at a “historic high”.

Najib highlighted the strong ties in his latest blog post titled “Strengthening Malaysia-India Bilateral Relations” on www.najibrazak.com yesterday.

Najib, who is on a six-day visit to India, said he had a fruitful day with Modi in New Delhi on Saturday, when they had a one-on-one meeting.

“Our 60-year bilateral relations continue to grow as we reap benefits from the strategic partnership we have established with India,” he said.

The prime minister shared some of the outcomes from the meeting, including those relating to defence and security cooperation.

He said Malaysia would continue to work closely and enhance cooperation with India to ensure that both nations, as well as the region, would remain peaceful.

“We also reaffirmed our commitment to fight any form of terrorism and extremism. Prime Minister Modi was particularly interested in Malaysia’s deradicalisation programme and we are more than happy to share our knowledge and experience with India,” he said.

On the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the two countries agreed they need a fresh free trade agreement to revitalise trade among nations not just around the region but also throughout the world.

Najib said he and Modi agreed the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement needed to be revitalised to make it more effective while the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement becomes more and more relevant today.

“I hope, with encouragement from India, RCEP will be able to take place at an earlier date,” he said.

Meanwhile, Najib and the Indian High Commission in Malaysia have dismissed claims of a visa fee hike to RM456 from RM180 for Malaysian visitors to India.

“There is no increase in the six months visa. In fact, India is creating a new category of its one-year visa,” Najib said at a reception held for Malaysian government officials and businessmen.

He also said there was no change in Malaysia’s new visa-free policy for Indian tourists staying in the country for 15 days or less.

A screenshot of the new visa structure, effective since last Saturday, issued by the Indian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, has gone viral, prompting Malaysians and even MIC president and Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam to voice their disappointment.

Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia T.S. Tirumurti denied there would be an increase in the visa rate, saying the controversy was due to initial confusion on the type of visa.

“The fee for the six-month tourist visa and other types of visa will remain the same. We are actually introducing a one-year visa for the first time,” he said.

Tirumurti said the one-year visa would allow more people to visit India multiple times, while online visa application also facilitates matters for travellers to the country.

He said Malaysians of Indian origin were also encouraged to apply for the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Card, a multiple entry life-long visa which enables the holder to unlimited travel and stay in India.

“We will continue to make innovations and make it easier for Malaysians to visit India. An online application will be approved within two days; payment is made online and the visa issued on arrival,” he said.

In 2015, 722,141 Indian tourists visited Malaysia, compared with 272,941 Malaysians who visited India on tourist visas. — Bernama

E-Paper Article View