Malaysia, Singapore To Open Borders; Doubts Remain As Infections Continue To Increase

Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Sri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein meeting on the Causeway, Sunday(July 26). Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malaysia.

Singapore and Malaysia have finalised arrangements for long-term pass holders and travellers on essential or official business to travel across border.

The pair had met at the mid-way point of the Johor-Singapore Causeway to discuss arrangements on the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA), prior to implementation of the two schemes on August 10.

“I’m … pleased to report that both sides have settled the arrangements for the Reciprocal Green Lane as well as for what we call the Periodic Commuting Arrangement, so all the details have been settled (and) applications will open on Aug 10, and in the next few days we will publish the operational details,” said Dr Balakrishnan.

Dr Balakrishnan stressed that arrangements have not been finalised on daily commuting between the land crossings as both countries are “not ready for that yet”.

“I would say, give us a couple of weeks to monitor the (COVID-19) figures, both in Malaysia, in particular Johor, and in Singapore. And as we gain greater confidence that the control of the pandemic is well-executed in both places, we can then begin the discussions for how we can allow daily commuting,” said Dr Balakrishnan.

This comes as a new Covid-19 cluster was discovered at an old folks home in Kluang, Johor last week. The 13 cases involved 12 Malaysians and one non-citizen. Singapore is struggling as well, having reported an additional 481 cases of Covid-19 yesterday, 27 July 2020.

Operational details such as the availability of mass-scale testing must be ironed out before daily commuting resumes, he added.

“You must bear in mind that even with a daily commuting model, there’ll be a need for regular comprehensive testing on both sides,” said Dr Balakrishnan.

The statement reiterated that applications for the RGL and PCA schemes can be submitted from August 10 onwards.

“The operational details of the RGL and PCA, including the detailed requirements, health protocols and application process involved for entry and exit into Singapore and Malaysia, will be finalised and published shortly,” the statement added.

The RGL will allow travel between Singapore and Malaysia for “essential business and official purposes”.

Eligible travellers must abide by the existing Covid-19 prevention and public health measures within both countries, including swab tests. Travellers must also submit a “controlled itinerary” to the receiving country and adhere to this itinerary throughout their visit.

Meanwhile, the PGA will allow Singapore and Malaysia residents who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country to enter that country.

After at least three consecutive months in their country of work, travellers can return to their home country for short-term home leave. They can then return to their country of work to continue work for at least another three consecutive months.

Before the dreaded days of Covid-19, more than 300,000 people, many of them Malaysians working in Singapore, crossed the land checkpoints between the two countries daily.

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