KUANTAN - The Home Ministry will co-ordinate with other ministries and agencies to put in place an integrated system that is in sync with 37 other countries which are offered visa waiver privileges by the United States.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said several high-level committee meetings had already been held and the ministry was testing out several systems which should be operational within the next 16 months.
"We are still in discussion with the United States to ensure a suitable system is ready for implementation in the country. If all goes well, the visa waiver privilege will be enjoyed by our citizens within 18 months after the visit by President Barack Obama to Malaysia in April," he said after opening Hyderabad Recipe's outlet here on Monday night.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said the privilege would first be enjoyed by government officials, followed by businessmen and then other citizens.
He said Immigration director-general Datuk Aloyah Mamat and the ministry's deputy secretary-general (operations) would start negotiations to finalise the matter with their US counterparts before his visit in September.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said measures would be put in place such as strengthening the Advance Passengers Screening System to ensure Malaysia would not remain in Tier 3 of the annual Trafficking in Persons Report released by the United States.
He said a council against human trafficking jointly chaired by him and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Paul Low would look into ways to clear the image of the country.
On the latest kidnap attempt in Sabah, Dr Ahmad Zahid said police had evidence it was carried out by Filipino gunmen.
He said the country would use all resources including other agencies and uniformed bodies to assist in safeguarding the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) from these intruders.