Corrected at 3.40pm on 11 Dec 2009
PETALING JAYA, 10 Dec 2009: Foreigners who enter the country to give talks require professional passes from the Immigration Department, the police confirmed today.
Event organisers are required to apply for a professional visit pass or Pas Ikhtisas before invited international guests could speak at events, the police added.
“Whether or not they are in the country for a day or a month, they require the pass from the Immigration Department. If they do not obtain the pass, they would be seen as breaking immigration rules,” said Inspector Kulalan from the Petaling Jaya Central District Office in a phone interview with The Nut Graph today.
“The pass is issued, for example, to singers or dancers who come to Malaysia [to perform]. It is also needed for professionals or expatriates who come to Malaysia to give talks,” added Kulalan.
Kulalan was responding to enquiries about the need for a professional visit pass for foreign speakers.
Kevin Tan On 9 Dec 2009, academic Prof Kevin Tan from Singapore could not speak at a Merdeka Review-organised forum about the Perak constitutional crisis. Police had told the organisers they had to first secure permission from the Immigration Department for him to speak.
“[A day before the event], when we contacted the police, they told us that Professor Kevin Tan is a foreigner, so we had to get an immigration pass for him before they could give us a police permit [for the forum],” Merdeka Review editor Chan Wei See said in a phone interview.
Chan said Tan was unable to be a panelist because it would have taken seven days for the Immigration Department to process the pass application.
As a result, Tan could only speak as an audience member from the floor at the Whither the Constitution? Lessons to be learnt from the Perak crisis forum, held in Petaling Jaya.
He was replaced on the panel by senior constitutional lawyer Tommy Thomas. The other panelists were constitutional expert Prof Datuk Dr Saleem Shad Faruqi and ousted Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin.
Kulalan confirmed that passes for foreign speakers were required before a police permit could be issued. “If an application is made to us for a police permit, we need to make sure that they have the required passes.”
The Immigration Department’s professional pass unit also confirmed with The Nut Graph that visiting speakers at conferences required professional passes. However, the officer declined to be quoted without official sanction, which was not forthcoming as of tonight.
The panelists, sans Tan
These rules, however, have not been applied across the board.
For example, none of the international speakers invited by the Bar Council or by Sime Darby or Khazanah Nasional have needed to apply nor did they apply for such a pass.
Ragunath (File pic) Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan also confirmed that several international speakers have presented at Bar Council events without needing a professional pass.
“Visiting lecturers or speakers do not require a professional pass to speak here,” he said, adding that he disagreed that there was such a legal requirement.
“We didn’t apply for a professional pass [for the foreign speakers], and we see no need to,” he said.
Leong was also involved in organising the Lincoln’s Inn Alumni Association annual dinner on 4 Dec 2009. “The (corrected) current Chief Justice of Singapore Datuk Seri Chan Sek Keong delivered the lecture and he didn’t have any professional pass,” Leong said.
He said such a requirement was “ridiculous”, noting that with the internet, one could obtain an expert’s opinion online without restriction.
“But if they come in person to say the same thing, then they have to obtain a permit?” he asked, saying that this was the first time he knew of any such requirement for foreign speakers.
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