ISKANDAR PUTERI: The next four months will be crucial for thousands of Malaysians before the government allows the full reopening of the country’s two land borders with Singapore.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said his ministry had plans to fully reopen the Johor Causeway and the Second Link for daily commuters due to pressures on their livelihoods.
“But we must find a way to balance two very important matters – economy and health, ” he told reporters after attending the unveiling of Lego mural tributes to frontliners at Legoland Malaysia Resort here yesterday.
Dr Adham, along with Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad and Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, unveiled the murals initiated by the resort’s employees with the help of the Malaysian Lego Building community.
Completed in nine days using over 150,000 pieces of Lego bricks, the inspirational works depicting a wide range of frontliners from medical and security personnel, delivery riders and cleaners to media personnel will be on display for a limited time from today.
Dr Adham noted that the next four months of the recovery movement control order was an important time for Malaysia before it fully reopened its borders with the island republic.
“This is the best time for us to try to reopen our borders systematically and to meet the needs of our community, ” he said.
“We can’t just go on a trial-and-error basis but must follow the health protocols and data.”
His ministry, said Dr Adham, was also looking at increasing the number of swab tests to be conducted on travellers under the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA).
“We must double the testing to 100% if we want the economic sector to start well, ” he said.
The RGL allows for 400 Malaysians and Singaporeans to travel to and from the two countries every week for official travel or business matters.
Under the PCA, some 2,000 Malaysians and Singaporeans with long-term work permits will be allowed to cross the Causeway and the Second Link every day.
Meanwhile, Hasni said the state government would continue to push Putrajaya to reopen the border with Singapore as soon as possible.
“The Federal Government should not look at our border with Singapore like the green travel bubble such as with Australia or any other countries because Johor and Singapore are in a very unique position.
“We hope the Federal Government will consider our request to open up the borders not only through RGL and PCA but for the 200,000-plus daily commuters, ” he said.
Hasni stressed that this would be the state government’s priority as the number of unemployment had gone up since the border closure to curb the spread of Covid-19.
On Thursday, Hasni told the Johor state assembly meeting that the state was able to conduct more than 2,000 Covid-19 tests daily for those going to and coming from Singapore under RGL and PCA.
He also revealed that until Aug 31,320 individuals had travelled to and from Singapore under RGL and another 8,270 under PCA.