PETALING JAYA, Sept 4: A think tank today questioned the government’s Covid-19 policies, deeming them discriminatory against foreigners.
The Center for Market Education (CME) said the restrictions on foreign nationals were contributing to a rise in anti-foreigner sentiments in the country.
Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob recently announced an entry ban on citizens of countries recording more than 150,000 Covid-19 cases starting Monday.
Last week, he announced an entry ban on long-term pass holders from India, Indonesia and the Philippines, also beginning Monday, due to a spike in Covid-19 cases in those countries.
The ban involves pass holders with permanent resident status, Malaysia My Second Home Programme participants, expatriates, including those with professional visit passes, and resident pass holders.
The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) also prohibited foreign nationals from applying for new licences to open more than 20 types of businesses in the city.
CME CEO Carmelo Felito said in a statement that the measures were important in curbing the spread of the virus, but were discriminatory against other nationalities.
“The ban on arrivals to Malaysia seems to imply that Covid-19 is somehow related with nationality rather than with the physical presence in a certain place,” he said.
“Why should an Italian coming from Japan, for example, be barred from entering Malaysia by virtue of his or her passport?”
He said such measures might discourage foreign direct investments and drive multinational companies away, which would negatively impact the local economy and employment sector.
“It seems that the contributions of foreigners, both immigrant workers and expatriates, to the Malaysian economy is not recognised anymore,” he said.