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Yusril Defends Visa Policy

Minister of Justice Says Any Losses Due to Immigration Policy Change is Worth the Cost.

(9/22/2003) Indonesia's Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, has defended his controversial plan to revoke the visa-free facility enjoyed by the nationals of 48 countries citing "gross misuse" of visitor's stay permits in areas such as Aceh and Papua that threaten the nation's territorial integrity.

Quoted in the Jakarta Post, Yusril admitted that the change in visa policy might result in a downturn in tourist numbers but suggested such a cost was negligible in comparison to any potential loss of national sovereignty. According to Yusril, "The losses resulting from efforts to defuse the threats of separatism are far more costly than the losses from a decline in tourist visits."

Opposition to Visa Policy Continues to Build

Meanwhile, opposition to the visa policy change continues to grow in tourism circles nation-wide. A delegation representing various tourism organizations in Bali are seeking a private audience with President Megawati to request any change in the visa policy be delayed until the local tourism industry recovers its equilibrium.