JOHOR BARU: The government should start looking at ways to reopen the border with Singapore to spur economic activity, especially in the city areas, senior officials here said.
They said since border movements became restricted in March, many businesses here have been adversely affected without customers from Singapore.
Datuk Tee Siew Kiong, the adviser to the Johor Mentri Besar, said the state had appealed to the Federal Government to explore ways to open the border in stages.
“With Singapore easing their SOP since Sept 1, especially with regards to the quarantine period being shortened from 14 days to seven, we should start doing the same.
“This is a good time to ease the restrictions as Johor has been in the green zone for several weeks, ” he said, adding that reopening of the two entry points to Singapore would help lift the economic gloom here.
Tee said Malaysia should review its SOP with Singapore from time to time instead of using a blanket rule, which was being used to handle visitors from foreign countries with high Covid-19 cases.
Johor Indian Business association president P. Sivakumar said many businesses would have to wind up in Johor Baru if the border remains closed until the end of the year.
“Now’s the time to find ways to reopen
borders, but without compromising on the need to carry out testing and following the SOP.
“How long do they want to keep the borders closed like this? It has already been more than six months and thousands are suffering.
“The situation will only worsen if the government continues to ignore calls to reopen the border, ” he said, adding that the present government handouts were not enough to sustain the state’s economy.
Sivakumar said streets in Johor Baru were “empty” with a rising number of “for rent and for sale” signs put up along major roads.
A check along major roads in Johor Baru yesterday showed most were deserted.
Among the spots previously popular among Singaporeans were Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, Jalan Segget, Jalan Maldrum, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Taman Sentosa and Taman Pelangi.
A visitor from Kuala Lumpur who went to Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, a heritage spot famous for its eateries, said she was surprised to see very few visitors.
“I took a stroll and sat on the bench and enjoyed the serenity, ” she added.
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