"The social visit pass replaces the VOA which was discontinued in April," he said during his winding-up of the debate on the King's Royal Address on Thursday. Under the VOA, 208,451 tourists were allowed in from January till March this year. The social visit pass must be obtained at the tourists' home country. There are 2.1 million foreign workers in the country, of which 1.1 million are from Indonesia, 330,000 from Bangladesh, 260,000 Nepalese and 140,000 Indians.
Syed Hamid said although foreign workers had contributed tremendously to the economy, they were also the cause of social ills, illegal squatters and diseases such as tuberculosis. He also said that the Internal Security Act (ISA) would not be abolished nor will the 70 detainees be taken to court.
"The detainees will only be released based on the advice of a committee and with the consent of the minister and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong," the NST online quoted Hamid, as saying.