BAHRAIN — Expatriate immigration officials in Malaysia’s central city of Surabaya said Monday they have seen a spike in expatriate vehicle registrations in recent months, despite the country’s restrictive visa regime.
Deputy chief executive officer of the Immigration Department, Mohd Shafeeq Hussain, said there had been a sharp rise in vehicle registrations over the past three months in Surabay, which is the gateway for expatriated Malaysians seeking to visit China.
“This increase was not limited to just one area of the city,” he said.
The number of vehicle registrations has jumped from the previous year, to about 4,500 vehicles annually, he said, citing a survey by the Malaysian Automobile Industry Association (MAIA) in June.
It was estimated that the number of vehicles registered each year would double to 5,000 vehicles by 2021.
In March, the government issued a ban on vehicles from countries like Myanmar, Sudan and Somalia, citing the presence of terrorism and criminal gangs.
Hussain said the government was “trying to stamp out illegal immigration,” but that it would take time.
Last week, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced a new crackdown on illegal immigration.
He announced a total ban on the entry of all foreign nationals, with the exception of foreign workers and those who work for the state.
A new immigration law, which will be implemented by January 2020, will impose a $100 fine on anyone who illegally enters Malaysia.
Najib said the law would be enforced by a team of immigration officers.
On Monday, Malaysian authorities detained an ex-American businessman, identified as Kenneth D. S. Wong, who has lived in Malaysia for the past 20 years.
He was detained at the International Airport in Suruban, and taken to a detention facility at a police station in Suracak.
The arrest came after a request from the US State Department, which asked Malaysia to revoke Wong’s visa.
Wong is a member of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), an anti-corruption organization based in the US, and is the owner of a Chinese company called Hong Kong-based China-based International Finance Corporation (IFIC).
Wong has been involved in illegal immigration for years, and in 2012 was deported from the country after being caught smuggling a large quantity of cash, according to the State Department.
According to a report by the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Wong had been convicted in Malaysia on five counts of fraudulently obtaining financial services.