Irda: We need to talk to Singapore

JOHOR BARU: The Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) is in full support of any travel bubble arrangement with Singapore that promotes business and trade in the economic corridor.

Irda chief executive Datuk Ismail Ibrahim (pic) said Malaysia should continue to allow those from Singapore to come and do business here as long as they adhere to local health regulations.

“Our two economies are dependent on each other. I have to admit among the reasons why Iskandar Malaysia was successful was due to the fact we were able to do a lot of trade and business with Singapore, ” he said.

He noted that Singapore was the second largest investor in Iskandar after China.

“They have to date invested RM24.3bil in Iskandar Malaysia since its launch.

“However, while we respect their (Singapore) decision to suspend the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL), we should make an effort to continue with a travel bubble with them that promotes business and trade, ” he said after the launch of the “Iskandar Malaysia 15-Year Commemorative Campaign” (IM15CC) here yesterday.

Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad, who launched the event virtually, had earlier said Johor would be asking the Federal Government to request Singapore continue with the RGL.

He said the RGL was important as it allowed many industries with Singaporean investors to continue their operations smoothly.

The Singapore government announced it would be suspending the RGL for three months starting yesterday.

Other than Malaysia, its RGL with South Korea and Germany would also be suspended.

Malaysia-Singapore Workers task force president Dayalan Sreebalan said Singapore should fine-tune the procedures under the RGL as it was mainly used for business purposes.

“Why suspend it for up to three months when they have started vaccinating their citizens?

“Why can’t they fine-tune the process and allow only those who have been vaccinated to use the RGL?

“Now because of this RGL suspension, many Malaysians are worried if Singapore will be suspending the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) next, which will affect a lot of people, ” he added.

Dayalan added he recently met up with some Singaporean business owners who were keen to relocate their business to Johor from the island republic and hire locals with good salaries.

“Now with the RGL suspension, this might scare away such business owners from moving to Iskandar, ” he said.

Meanwhile, MIC’s Singapore workers affairs bureau chief S. Aruldass had similar worries about those using the PCA to commute between Malaysia and Singapore.

“People are concerned about the possibility of the PCA also being suspended due to the high number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, ” he said.

He urged the Malaysian government to continue to hold discussions with Singapore to allow for the PCA.

Meanwhile Penangite Harizal Abdullah, 39, who has been staying in Singapore for more than 10 years, said the suspension of the RGL would pose a problem to Malaysians who commute between the island and Johor.

“I understand Singapore’s decision and although the suspension is only for three months, it will badly affect Malaysians who work on the island, and companies in Singapore which employ Malaysians, ” he said.

Harizal, who heads a fitness club on the island republic, said Malaysians who used to commute should get places to live in Singapore.

“Hopefully, employers in Singapore can do their part by introducing special incentives or accommodation allowances for their employees from Malaysia, ” he said.

The RGL had previously enabled cross-border travel for essential business and purposes between Malaysia and Singapore, for up to a maximum of 400 people a week, for stays of up to two weeks.

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