Good news for businesses

Welcome move: At the moment, only lorries transporting goods are using the Causeway. — THOMAS YONG/The Star

JOHOR BARU: Business groups here have lauded Malaysia and Singapore’s cooperation towards recognising each other’s Covid-19 vaccine certification and hope the move can be put in place immediately.

Iskandar Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry adviser Md Salikon Sarpin said the recent joint statement by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and his Singaporean counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan on the certification was a positive development.

It could ease economic recovery given that the Malaysia-Singapore border had been closed for more than a year, he said.

“It is certainly good news for businesses here as they have been badly affected by the pandemic.

“Apart from aiding economic recovery, the vaccination certificate will also allow families living on both sides of the Causeway to be reunited after being separated for so long, ” said Md Salikon.

He also said the initiative would revive the tourism industry here, which is highly dependent on Singaporean visitors.

Johor South SME adviser Teh Kee Sin echoed the view, adding that it was a vital step forward.

“SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in Johor Baru, especially those in the city centre, are currently in bad shape and are awaiting the return of Singaporean visitors.

“The mutual recognition of the Covid-19 certification will surely help improve the situation.

“It has also been difficult for businesses here to carry out trade in Singapore with the closure of the border, and vice versa.

“While they are able to travel between the two countries under existing travel schemes, it is very inconvenient as they still have to undergo quarantine, ” he said.

Teh added that Singaporeans who owned businesses in Johor Baru had also been forced to continue managing their companies here remotely.

“We hope that the initiative will kick off as soon as possible and we can go back to how things were before the pandemic, ” he said.

Johor Muafakat Bus Operators and Drivers’ Association chairman R. Thiagarajan said it was a welcome move.

“Leaders from both countries must continue the talks to ensure that the initiative can be carried out immediately.

“However, as long as travel restrictions between states under conditional MCO are still in place, the tourism industry in Malaysia will still receive limited benefits from the certification, ” he said.

Thiagarajan added that he hoped the certification would help bus operators in Johor, especially those ferrying Malaysian workers to Singapore, resume operations.

On Tuesday, Malaysia and Singapore reaffirmed their commitment to work together towards recognising each other’s Covid-19 vaccine certificates, with a view towards facilitating cross-border travel.

In a joint statement, Hishammuddin and Dr Balakrishnan said both countries would also continue working on their respective national vaccination programmes to cover long-term residents, including Malaysians residing in Singapore and Singaporeans residing in Malaysia.

They said Malaysia and Singapore would progressively restore cross-border travel for other groups of travellers in addition to the Reciprocal Green Lane and the Periodic Commuting Arrangement, taking into account the Covid-19 situation to ensure public health and the safety of both countries.

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