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COVID-19: Johor to table plan to Malaysian government on reopening Malaysia-Singapore border, says chief minister

COVID-19: Johor to table plan to Malaysian government on reopening Malaysia-Singapore border, says chief minister

File photo of Woodlands Causeway between Singapore and Malaysia, Mar 18, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)

JOHOR BAHRU: The Johor state government will be tabling a special plan for the prompt reopening of the Malaysia-Singapore border at the Causeway and Second Link to the federal government soon.

Johor Chief Minister Hasni Mohammad said the plan would be tabled to the Economic Action Council on Oct 19.

"The plan will not only touch on the needs to reopen the border, it will also (look) at those working in (Singapore) and the effects of investment in Johor as well as those intending to enter (to invest) in Johor.

"We need to explain why the measure (border reopening) was necessary as we cannot continue to be in this situation as many of our people are affected, similarly the business sector as well," he told reporters after closing the 2020 Asia International Innovation Exhibition.

READ: COVID-19: Malaysia in no hurry to open its borders, says PM Muhyiddin

READ: Malaysia's Health Ministry looking into fully reopening border with Singapore

Elaborating further, Hasni said Johor had various reasons to consider the demand and its special position, as revenue from the two checkpoints contribute up to 50 per cent of Malaysian Customs' tax collection.

"When we could not open the border, I am confident and believe it would affect our country's Customs revenue collection.

"Besides, we could feel the direct effect when many residents living in Johor Bahru could not travel to and from work and other matters to Singapore," he said.

READ: From malls to hotels, the Singaporean haunts that have gone quiet in Johor Bahru amid COVID-19

Earlier, in his speech, Hasni said he was worried that many businesses were badly affected when the checkpoints were still not fully opened in the effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Reopening the border between Malaysia and Singapore has been a topic of ongoing discussion between the two countries, as employment and businesses have been affected.

READ: Generally smooth process at Singapore-Malaysia border crossing on first day of RGL, PCA

READ: COVID-19: PM Muhyiddin hopes Malaysia, Singapore can finalise procedures for daily commuting

On Oct 4, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department for Economic Affairs Mustapa Mohamed admitted that discussion on reopening the border was on the agenda of the federal government even though the country is now facing increasing cases of COVID-19.

Malaysia reported 561 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday – the bulk of them in Sabah state, which has already seen a large increase in infections over the past few weeks.

The new cases raised Malaysia's cumulative tally to 15,657 cases, according to the health ministry. There were two new deaths reported, raising the death toll to 157.

According to Mustapa, the government understood that COVID-19 posed tremendous risks. Nonetheless, there was a need to address economic and health issues to rehabilitate the economy.

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