Malaysia asks Singapore to reopen border

The Malaysian government is asking Singapore to allow its citizens to cross between the two countries daily for work.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a Facebook statement on Friday, June 26, that he spoke with his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong to discuss the possible reopening of the two countries’ borders, according to a report by Channel News Asia.

Authorities supported the planned reopening but said that it should be done cautiously and based on guidelines to avoid the further transmission of the virus.

“We are in agreement that the reopening of our borders should be done carefully according to certain health guidelines and protocols to rejuvenate the economic and tourism sectors, which will greatly benefit both countries,” the prime minister said.

Malaysia was also ready to sit with Singapore to bring plans for a reciprocal green lane to the table which was aimed at facilitating car movements between the two countries.

A Periodical Commuting Agreement was also discussed during the meeting, which if and when implemented, would allow Malaysian and Singaporeans to cross-travel.

“Under this arrangement, residents of both countries can work in the other country for a period of fewer than three months and will be allowed to enter their country of origin when going on leave,” he said.

“This proposal is in line with the government’s concern over the fate of Malaysians, especially those working in Singapore and who could not return home because of the tight standard operating procedure (SOP) for quarantine in both countries,” he added.

Muhyiddin said that both countries were confident that they would resolve issues on SOP and health protocols, and could be soon worked out to support the proposal to reopen the shared border.

He said, however, that any decision on such an agreement would be subject to the level of preparedness of both countries regarding the aspect of the capacity to implement virus screening and swab tests.

For its part, Singapore will likely take a “step-by-step” approach on the reopening of borders with Malaysia, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

“We can open up in steps, have the appropriate measures to test people, contact trace people because when you open up, your risk (of contracting the virus) will inevitably increase,” he was quoted as saying in an interview with CNA.

Malaysia said last week that Singaporeans may be allowed to enter the country without the need to undergo virus testing but that Singapore should reciprocate the favor.