M'sian passport ranks 4th in Asia, Visa-Free in 179 countries
PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian passport remains the fourth most powerful in Asia, enabling Malaysians to travel to more countries visa-free.
According to the rankings published by the Henley Passport Index, holders of Malaysian passport can travel to 179 countries visa-free.
This is an increase from the 2018's figure of 166 countries.
Malaysia is placed behind Singapore, Japan and South Korea in Asia, and is ranked 12th overall in the world out of 199 countries.
South Korea jumped from third place in 2018 to tie with Singapore this year.
Although there are more places for Malaysia to visit visa-free, Malaysia's ranking dropped from 10th place in 2018 to 12th. In this year's index, Malaysia is tied at 12th place with Estonia.
War-torn countries, including Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq ranked 104th place, with access to only 30 destinations visa-free.
The HPI report pointed out that Asian countries’ continuing dominance of the HPI reflects the 'extraordinary effect that international mobility and migration has had on the region'.
The report added that 'experts anticipate that neither 'the US nor EU member states are in line to substantially revise their current visa policies, whereas countries in other parts of Europe (such as citizenship-by-investment newcomers Moldova and Montenegro), as well as those in Asia and the Middle East, look set to continue seeking visa-waiver agreements with diplomatic allies.'
'A question mark remains over the ultimate impact of Brexit. While the deal hangs in the balance, it is difficult to anticipate what the ultimate ramifications will be for EU and UK citizens, as well as for EU and UK trade and co-operation,' it said.
The report noted that insights from the data showed that the ever-growing trend towards visa-openness is unlikely to slow down.
'Overall, 2019 looks set to hold some surprises in the travel freedom space as more countries and citizens embrace the benefits of global mobility,' it said.
The report pointed out that while in 2006, a citizen, on average, could travel to 58 destinations without needing a visa from the host nation, by 2018, this number had nearly doubled to 107.
(Source : The Star, 15 Jan 2019)