Malaysia’s passport fell to 13th spot on a global power ranking – here’s why it lost to countries like Singapore and Japan

Currently, the Malaysian passport grants holders visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 178 destinations worldwide.
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Malaysians have one of the top 20 most powerful passports in the world, a new report reveals.

According to the latest rankings released on the Henley Passport Index released on Tuesday (Jan 7), the Malaysian passport is the 13th most powerful in the world.

This is a decrease of one place compared to last year’s rankings, and a drop of three places since 2018.

When compared to the Japanese passport – which sits in first place with 191 visa-free destinations – Malaysia’s passport grants holders visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 13 fewer places, with just 178 destinations worldwide.

Singapore came in at second place, losing out to Japan by just one jurisdiction at 190 destinations.

A tie between Germany and South Korea with a score of 189 rounds out the top three most powerful passports in the world at the moment.

The Henley Passport Index – which is updated in real time throughout the year when visa policy changes come into effect – is based on authoritative data provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

While Asian countries dominated this year’s index, European passports fared well too, with Finnish and Italian passports jointly taking the fourth spot with access to 188 countries.

Countries that tied for fifth are Denmark, Luxembourg, and Spain, with access to 187 countries.

Meanwhile, other Asian passports in the top 30 include Hong Kong (169 destinations) at 20th and Brunei (166) at 23rd.

Dr Christian Kaelin, chairman of Henley and Partners, said in a statement that the Asian dominance of the top spots is a “clear argument for the benefits of open-door policies”  and that the world is adapting to mobility as a “permanent condition of global life”.

“The latest rankings show that the countries that embrace this reality are thriving, with their citizens enjoying ever-increasing passport power and the array of benefits that come with it,” he added.

Henley and Partners also noted that the US and UK are continuing their downward trajectory on the rankings. Although both countries remain in the top 10, their shared eighth place position is a significant decline from the number one spot they jointly held in 2015.

Additionally, the report noted that the global mobility gap is the “starkest it has been since the index’s inception in 2006”, with a Japanese passport holder now able to access 165 more countries than an Afghan national.

Afghanistan citizens had the weakest passport, with visa-free access to only 26 destinations worldwide.

Here are the top 10 most powerful passports in 2020:

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