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Allowing Malaysians to commute to Singapore will boost both countries’ economies: Johor chief minister

The decision to allow Malaysians to commute from Johor Bahru to Singapore for work will not only provide relief to the people but will also help to boost the economy in both countries, said Johor Chief Minister Hasni Mohammad on Tuesday (Jun 9).

Allowing Malaysians to commute to Singapore will boost both countries’ economies: Johor chief minister

The Causeway as dawn breaks on Mar 18, 2020. (Photo: Try Sutrisno Foo)

JOHOR BAHRU: Johor's Chief Minister has welcomed a move by the federal government to allow Malaysians to commute from Johor Bahru to Singapore for work.

Mr Hasni Mohammad said on Tuesday (Jun 9) that this would not only provide relief for workers but would also help to boost the economy in both countries. 

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Monday it welcomed Malaysia's proposal to resume cross-border travel between the two countries.

But Singapore National Development Minister Lawrence Wong also warned that before such travel can resume, testing may have to be carried out, a quarantine period may have to be imposed, or a combination of both measures. 

On Tuesday, the Johor chief minister said any resumption of travel would be "light at the end of the tunnel" after almost three months of challenging life for workers. 

Malaysia began enforcing a movement control order (MCO) on Mar 18 to curb the spread of COVID-19.

"I believe that the federal government's decision to allow Malaysians to commute to Singapore is for the economic benefits of both countries and the well-being of Malaysians working in the island republic," he said in a statement.

"Indeed, Malaysia and Singapore need each other especially as neighbouring countries."

READ: Markets in Johor to reopen from Jun 15

On Monday, Singapore said there were still details to be worked out before workers are allowed to move between the two neighbours.

“Measures, safeguards and precautions have to be put in place to ensure the resumption of safe travel between Singapore and Malaysia, so we are discussing all these with our Malaysian counterparts, (including) exactly how many people, what kinds of protocols will be put in place and which industries (will be involved)," Mr Wong said.

Mr Hasni said on Tuesday that “the state government will always help and cooperate with the federal government and Singaporean Government to facilitate the necessary arrangements and ensure they proceed smoothly”.

The Benut State Assemblyman said before the MCO, it was estimated that between 200,000 and 250,000 Malaysians commute either through the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex at Sultan Iskandar Building or Sultan Abu Bakar Complex to work in Singapore in various sectors including manufacturing, hospitality and other services.

However, he said the government’s decision to enforce the MCO and the implementation of Singapore’s “circuit breaker” on Apr 7 has resulted in the loss of income for the majority of Malaysians working in Singapore.

READ: ‘I eat one meal a day’: Some Malaysians who lost their jobs in Singapore left stranded and cash-strapped

He added that Johor has received RM19.423 billion of investments in the manufacturing sector from Singapore since 1999.

“For 2019, investment from Singapore jumped 51.47 per cent to RM1.68 billon. The investment trend from Singapore has shown a positive significance and (it has been) among the biggest contributors to the investment in Johor,” he said.

He added that Johor's proximity to Singapore, as well as similarities in the geopolitical and business environment are other factors that attract investment from Singapore. 

Mr Hasni said the state government also welcomed Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's decision to move Malaysia into a "recovery phase". This will begin on Wednesday, allowing more sectors to reopen in stages.

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