Cross-border travel between Singapore and Malaysia kicks off


SINGAPOREm Aug 17 (The Straits Times/ANN) - Factory operator Nurul Hidayah Norezan was among dozens of Malaysians who made their way across the Causeway to Singapore on Monday (Aug 17), as the two countries' cross-border travel arrangements kick in.

As there is no public transport plying the 1km-long Causeway, Ms Nurul, 28, joined others in making their way on foot in the early hours of the morning. The journey took a little longer than usual at over an hour as they were walking with luggage in tow.

She used to commute daily between Singapore and Johor for her job here, but has been away from it since March, when Kuala Lumpur decided to close Malaysia's borders to stem the spread of the coronavirus, catching her and thousands of Malaysians off-guard.

Ms Nurul told The Straits Times at the Woodlands Train Checkpoint: "I'm excited to be back to work again but at the same time I'm sad that I'll be separated from my one-year-old child. It was difficult parting from him but at least I know he'll be in good hands."

Her mother will be taking care of her only child, she added.

Dozens of Malaysians were also leaving Singapore on Monday morning to go back to their home towns.

The resumption of cross-border travel between Singapore and Malaysia takes place under two schemes: the reciprocal green lane (RGL) for travellers on shorter visits, and the longer-term periodic commuting arrangement (PCA).

The RGL facilitates short-term travel for essential business or official purposes between both sides for up to 14 days, while the PCA allows Singapore and Malaysia residents who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country to enter that country for work.

The arrangements allow employers to travel for essential meetings and give workers opportunities to see their families more often.

Malaysia's Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said last month that 2,000 Malaysians and Singaporeans are allowed to cross daily under PCA while under RGL, only 400 Malaysians and Singaporeans can travel to and fro between the two countries a week.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 300,000 travellers used the Causeway every day. Among these were about 100,000 Malaysians who commuted daily between Singapore and Malaysia.

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