ISKANDAR PUTERI, Johor: Malaysia’s Health Ministry is looking into fully reopening the Malaysia-Singapore border for daily commutes, minister Adham Baba said on Friday (Sep 11).
He said that the plan to reopen the border came after pressure from the public, whose livelihood had been affected by the border closures.
“The extension of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) until December is a crucial period for the ministry to determine the best time to allow the opening of the border for daily commuters,” Dr Adham told the media after the launch of a Lego mural dedicated to COVID-19 frontliners at the Legoland theme park.
“This is because during this period, we will be able to assess and acquire valuable input from both countries, including methods to reduce COVID-19 infection.”
Dr Adham stressed that the ministry would utilise the data and follow the stipulated regulations to prevent claims of not doing its best in controlling the disease and not taking care of the people’s well-being.
He added that the ministry is planning to double the number of swab tests conducted over the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) schemes.
Currently, 2,000 swab tests are carried out daily under the PCA scheme and 400 under the RGL scheme.
Both schemes went into effect last month. Under the PCA, Singapore and Malaysia citizens or permanent residents who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes will be allowed to enter the other country for work.
The RGL, on the other hand, will allow Singapore and Malaysia residents to do shorter-term travel for essential business and official purposes for up to 14 days.
READ: FAQ: How can workers travel between Singapore and Malaysia and what are the COVID-19 protocols in place?
On Sep 3, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin expressed hope that Singapore and Malaysia would soon finalise arrangements for daily commuting of workers between both countries.
Johor’s Chief Minister Hasni Mohammad, who was also present at Friday's event, said the state government would continue to push for reopening the border.
“I will continue to urge the federal government not to consider the Green Travel Bubble plan for the Johor-Singapore border opening,” he said, adding that the relationship between Singapore and Johor is unique.
“That is why we do not hesitate to allow movement of lorries that carry food, medical supplies, essential items and such, because here the human element is involved, and between Johor and Singapore things are different.”
He also urged the federal government to consider this unique position.
Also present at the event was Malaysia’s Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri.