Border reopening a boost for workforce


  • Metro News
  • Thursday, 16 Jul 2020

JOHOR BARU: The scheduled reopening of the Johor Causeway and Second Link on Aug 10 is timely and expected to ease the plight of about 100,000 people who have been laid off from work since the movement control order (MCO) and Circuit Breaker (CB) were imposed.

The MCO in Malaysia started on March 18 while the CB was imposed on April 7.

State investment, entrepreneur development, cooperative and human resource committee chairman Mohd Izhar Ahmad said both governments had also reached a mutual understanding to allow citizens, especially Johoreans working in the island republic, to return.

He said only those with work permits would be allowed to enter Singapore in stages.

“The livelihood of some 100,000 Malaysians has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic that led to MCO and CB.

“The measures were taken to prevent the spread of the virus.”

He said during discussions with representatives of industries in Singapore, it was indicated that they planned to reemploy those laid off.

“The discussions involved about 20 major industries in Singapore, including the electronics and service sectors, and they said they needed workers, ” he said.

“The workers will be sent in stages. This is to monitor the situation and see if infections arise with the border reopening.

“If conditions are safe, then we will consider sending more people and eventually opening it up to non-workers as well, ” he said after handing over aid from Social Security Organisation (Socso) to a family from Taman Impian Emas in Skudai here.

He said of the affected workforce, 75% were expected to return to work while the chances of this for 15% were still pending.

Mohd Izhar said the remaining 10% had decided not to return to Singapore to work and instead would focus on other ventures back home.

He said Johor was planning to introduce a post-Covid-19 reskilling and upskilling programme to help Johoreans find jobs in the local market.

“The programme will be launched by the end of July or as soon as we have all related agencies on board, because we want job seekers’ skills to match current industry needs.

“It will mostly involve engineering skills but for those planning to do business, we will give them some pointers, ” he said.

Mohd Izhar urged the unemployed, graduates and school-leavers to register on Socso’s MyFutureJobs (www.myfuturejobs.gov.my) portal.

“The state government has also provided Unit Strategik Modal Insan Johor for job seekers and Perbadanan Usahawan Johor Sdn Bhd (PUJB) for those who wish to set up businesses, ” he said.

It was earlier reported that Malaysia and Singapore planned to reopen the border to different groups of travellers beginning from Aug 10.

The decision was announced through a joint press statement by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and his Singaporean counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, stating both governments had agreed to implement the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA).

“These two schemes are meant to address the needs of different groups of cross-border travellers between both countries, ” the statement read.

It said RGL would enable cross-border travel for essential business and official purposes between both countries.

Those allowed to travel must adhere to prevailing Covid-19 prevention and public health measures mutually agreed upon by both countries, that included undergoing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests.Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad said the state government welcomed the decision to reopen the border.

“Singapore is a strategic partner for Malaysia, especially Johor, in many aspects including economy and social.

“I am sure the reopening will bring relief to many people who can continue with their business activities or resume work, ” he said in a statement.

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