JOHOR BARU: Business groups here do not see the border with Singapore fully opening up in the first quarter of the year due to the spike in Covid-19 cases in Johor and other parts of Malaysia.
Johor Indian Business Association president P. Sivakumar said the island republic would surely not take the risk, given that Malaysia, particularly Johor, had seen a surge of infections.
“We need to control the situation before thinking about opening up our border with Singapore, which has been closed for almost a year now, ” he said yesterday.
He urged the Malaysian government to expedite its vaccination exercise, just as Singapore had done.
“Once we receive our vaccinations, it would make it easier for us to open up our border, with the assurance from our side that Malaysia has taken the necessary steps to safeguard public health, ” he said.
Sivakumar added that if everything, including vaccinations, went well, then the border could be opened by June at the latest.
Johor South SME adviser Teh Kee Sin called on the Malaysian government to come up with a stricter SOP to tackle the increase in Covid-19 cases in the state.
“Singapore went through a really tough time in battling Covid-19 and bringing the situation under control.
“If not enough is done to improve the situation here, it will not help to win Singapore’s confidence with the local business sector, which is already affected by the border closure, ” he said.
Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneurs Association secretary Hussein Ibrahim said the economic situation in Johor was different from other states.
“Over here, about 70% to 80% of businesses are dependent on Singaporeans.
“Even with the government allowing many businesses to operate during the current movement control order, we do not see any improvement, ” he said.
When contacted, state health and environment committee chairman R. Vidyananthan said Johor welcomes any initiatives taken by the Federal Government with Singapore to fully reopen the border.He added that since both countries had started the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA), more than 20,000 travellers had entered Johor from the city-state.
“Up till Thursday, the total number of travellers using RGL stood at 2,746 while 17,291 used PCA, ” he said.
“Since RGL and PCA were implemented on Aug 17 last year, only three Covid-19-positive cases have been recorded.”
On Monday, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said both Malaysia and Singapore were in talks to standardise the SOP for cross-border travel for compassionate reasons.
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