KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (eTN) – Malaysian travelers may soon face the unpleasant prospects of being barred from entering European countries because of the increase in arrests due to crimes.

The 90-day free visa access in European countries that Malaysians are now entitled under the Schengen Agreement may now be in jeopardy following reports of increasing numbers of Malaysians arrested or are in jail in China, Taiwan, the US and even South America.

According to Malaysian Deputy Foreign Minister Rahim Bakri, Malaysians may be denied this privilege if “too many” Malaysian citizens are arrested for various crimes.

A government figure of 713 Malaysians arrested or awaiting trial for committing offences overseas since 2004 has put the country at odds on the government’s proposal to resolve the problem.

Mostly involving vulnerable young women, who are alleged to have been “wittingly or unwittingly” sweet-talked into being “drug mules” for drug syndicates, while others are facing charges for human trafficking, credit card forgery, invalid travel documents and overstaying, Rahim said.

“If the third-country privileges are denied, a visa or permission is needed to enter each country individually,” Rahim added. “Malaysians will find it difficult to travel in and out of any European country.”

Malaysia is a third country signatory under the Schengen Agreement, signed in 1985 and 1990. It abolished physical borders among European countries.

“We have yet to receive any letter or advice from foreign governments,” added Rahim. “But that doesn’t mean they are not monitoring Malaysians. If this trend continues, Malaysians are certainly going to be denied visa-free access to countries under the agreement.”

The government will soon be issuing a travel advisory to avoid young women from falling victims to drug syndicates, Rahim said.