Both sides take just 20 minutes to reach agreement

JOHOR BARU: Except for several hundred vehicles transporting goods to Singapore, cross-border travel between Malaysia and the island republic has been shut for over four months now.

But it only took a 20-minute meeting between Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan by the roadside of the Causeway to agree to a reopening of the border.

Travelling in a bus to the mid-span of the 1km Causeway linking Malaysia to Singapore, Hishammuddin was accompanied by Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad, Foreign Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakon and Johor state secretary Datuk Azmi Rohani.

As no chair or table had been set up for the meeting, the ministers and officials – all donning face masks – had to stand during the short meeting.

“The meeting was warm and jovial,” said an official.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, nobody shook hands but had fist bumps.

Describing the meeting as historic, Hishammuddin said this was his first time meeting Dr Vivian after assuming his post as Foreign Minister earlier this year.

“I am a Foreign Minister who stays in the country,” he jokingly told the press.

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