KUALA LUMPUR: The full opening of the Malaysia-Singapore border hinges on the smooth implementation of the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) between the two nations, says Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
The Foreign Minister said for the RGL and PCA to work, it was crucial that the first and second categories of cross-border travel currently under negotiations be successfully implemented.
"I believe that if the first and second categories go smoothly, it will be a positive start with regard to the third and fourth categories," he told reporters at a press conference in Parliament on Wednesday (July 15).
The RGL allows 400 Malaysians and Singaporeans to travel to and from the two countries a week, but this is restricted to official travel and important business matters.
The PCA allows some 2,000 Malaysians and Singaporeans with long-term work permits to cross the Tambak Johor and the Second Link (Link Kedua) each day.
Hishamuddin said the agreement for the RGL and PCA was that it would be implemented this Aug 10, with the standard operating procedure finalised before that.
He noted the other two categories involved the daily crossing of between 200,000 and 250,000 Malaysians and Singaporeans, and full opening of the borders.
He said the ability to conduct Covid-19 screening on such a large number of people was crucial if the two remaining categories were to be implemented.
"The final category involves the full opening of the borders, and this will done in stages.
"Our dilemma is balancing health, security and the economy," he said, adding that more time was needed before the final two categories could be implemented.
On Tuesday, Hishammuddin and Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan announced the RGL and PCA to address the needs of different groups of travellers between both countries.
On a separate matter, Hishamuddin said a total of 23,955 Malaysians stranded abroad in 82 countries had been brought home following the outbreak of the Covid-19 global pandemic.
He added that there were still 317 Malaysians stranded in 37 countries. Of this, 191 were in countries where Covid-19 deemed critical.
"Wisma Putra has also identified 10,159 Malaysians who have the potential of ending up stranded abroad," he said.
Of this, he said that 9,270 are students who are mainly located in the US, United Kingdom and Australia.