Bloomberg | | Posted by Zarafshan Shiraz
Hong Kongers are set to get longer visa-free stays in Malaysia, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter, as the city’s leader seeks to forge closer ties with its Southeast Asian neighbours.
Malaysia agreed to extend the period Hong Kong passport-holders can stay in the Southeast Asian nation to 90 days from 30 without a visa, said people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to speak freely. An announcement could come as soon as Thursday, one of the people said.
The Hong Kong government reached out to the Malaysian government and lodged the request, two of the people said. The city’s Chief Executive John Lee is expected to arrive in the Southeast Asian nation on Thursday as part of a week-long tour of the region.
The move would represent a reciprocation of the 90-day visa free travel that Malaysians currently enjoy to the Asian financial hub. The Malaysian Home Ministry didn’t respond to multiple calls from Bloomberg News, while a representative from the Hong Kong government didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Lee is in Southeast Asia to drum up investment opportunities for the international financial hub. He is also seeking to garner support for the city’s bid to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which was formed under China’s leadership.
Malaysia’s move to grant Hong Kong the visa-free extension would be an easy win for Lee to show he’s forging closer ties with Southeast Asia.
Hong Kong has been working to shore up the city’s international financial center as concerns mount in Western capitals over the erosion of civil liberties following the enactment of a Beijing-imposed national security law in 2020. The former British colony has shifted to building ties with Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries, which haven’t publicly criticized Hong Kong about jailing pro-democracy activists and groups.
Lee is scheduled to arrive in Malaysia on Thursday, after visiting Indonesia and Singapore, where he signed memorandums of understanding on topics including trade and financial services. In February, the Hong Kong leader visited Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where similar pacts were signed.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.