SINGAPORE: Measures, guarantees, and precautions must be in place before travel can resume between Singapore and Malaysia, said Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong on Monday, June 8.
Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministerial COVID-19 task force, answered questions from the media after Putrajaya said talks were underway to allow Malaysians from Johor Bahru to travel to Singapore and return to work.
Travel between Singapore and Malaysia can resume
Speaking at a press conference, Wong said negotiations with Malaysia are part of ongoing discussions with various countries.
“The same principle will apply… we will welcome these travelers. We want to see the resumption of travel, but it must be done in a safe manner. And that would mean examining the test protocols in place on both sides, ”he said.
Mr. Wong said that before such a trip can resume, tests may need to be done, a quarantine period may be imposed, or a combination of the two.
“Measures, guarantees, and precautions must be put in place to ensure the resumption of safe travel between Singapore and Malaysia, so we are discussing all of this with our Malaysian counterparts, (including) exactly how many people, what types of protocols will be implemented. in place and which industries (will be involved), “he added.
However, he noted that the volume of travel would not be as high as before.
“I think we are pretty clear. It will not return to where we were before the circuit breaker or before COVID-19 hit us. We are not talking about large volumes of daily commuters entering and leaving freely,” said Mr. Wong.
“We are talking about resuming the trip, but in a controlled and safe manner for both sides. It is in our mutual interest. “
PUTRAJAYA READY TO ENSURE TRAVELERS TAKE COVID-19 TESTS
Earlier today, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that the special ministerial meeting on the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) had agreed to allow Malaysians to come and go to work between Johor Bahru and Singapore.
“We are ready to make sure that they pass COVID-19 tests … If this is the condition required by the Singaporean government, that they pass swab tests, we agree”, he declares.
However, he said implementation would only begin after the conclusion of negotiations by the Secretary-General of the Malaysian Foreign Ministry and his Singaporean counterpart.
“If we can, we will agree to the terms they offer, and then only Malaysian workers who commute between Johor Bahru and Singapore can return to work. We are still waiting,” said Mr. Ismail Sabri.
The minister said that with Singapore industries operating again, they asked their Malaysian employees, who are in Johor Bahru, to travel to Singapore to work. Singapore left the “breaker” on June 1, with most economic sectors resuming operations.
Ismail Sabri added that the Sultan Ibrahim Johor Foundation and two Singaporean companies, Temasek and Thomson Medical Group, have volunteered to provide two COVID-19 mobile laboratories and COVID-19 test kits.
In a press release on Monday, the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) said it welcomed Malaysia’s proposal to resume cross-border travel between the two countries.
“We are ready to work with Malaysia to meet the needs of cross-border travelers, including short-term business and official travelers and Malaysian workers who previously commuted between Singapore and Malaysia,” said the foreign ministry.
“These proposed arrangements should include mutually agreed public health protocols to allow the safe resumption of cross-border movements.”
He added that the time required to develop the details would also depend on the situation of COVID-19 in the two countries.
“In the meantime, Singapore will continue to take practical steps to allow Malaysians to continue working in Singapore,” said the foreign ministry.
The Malaysian MCO has been in place since March 18, restricting domestic and international travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, Singapore set up a circuit breaker period from April 7 to June 1, which tightened border controls.
To break the chain of infection, the two governments imposed a 14-day quarantine for people entering the countries. These measures prevented Malaysians, who live in Johor but work in Singapore, from crossing the strait.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Sunday that the MCO will enter a “recovery phase” from June 10 to August 31. As part of the MCO of recovery, “almost all” social, educational, religious, and commercial activities, as well as economic sectors will reopen in several phases, with standard operating procedures to be followed.
Although interstate travel is permitted, the borders of Malaysia will remain closed.