Create a travel bubble, Malaysia and Singapore urged

Johor health and environment committee chairman R. Vidyananthan.

KLUANG: Malaysia and Singapore needs to seriously find a “win-win” solution that will lead to a travel bubble that enables the land border between the two to reopen as soon as possible.

State health and environment committee chairman R. Vidyananthan said many people were worried that the border closure would drag on until 2022.

“Many families have been separated for more than a year. This has piled on a lot of stress and anxiety among the thousands who have been displaced, ” he said, adding that many have also lost their jobs and businesses, and any delay in reopening the border would only worsen the situation in Johor.

He added that many Singaporean families with relatives in Malaysia have also been “cut off”.

He said Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad had been pushing for the reopening of the border since last year.

“Maybe Singapore can have a travel bubble with Johor similar to the one it created with Hong Kong in May.

“I am optimistic our leaders will find a ‘middle ground’ to resolve the border closure issue during Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s visit to Singapore on May 4, ” Vidyananthan said, adding that the first step was for both governments to recognise the vaccine shots.

“This would allow those vaccinated to cross the border without any need for quarantine.

“Vaccinated Singaporeans are still subject to 10 days of quarantine in Malaysia and vice versa, ” he said.

To date, more than 450,000 Malaysians have been fully vaccinated, while Singapore has fully vaccinated 849,000 people.

Vidyananthan said Singapore uses Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, while Malaysia has been using Pfizer, CoronaVac (from Sinovac) and AstraZeneca.

On Hasni’s announcement that 100,000 doses would be given to those who want to work in Singapore, Vidyananthan hopes that a vaccine mutually acceptable by both countries would be used to ensure easy certification.

“We also need to get those vaccinated to follow a specific route between their place in Johor and their destination in Singapore to allow for easier contact tracing if anything happens, ” he said.

He said many Malaysians were still staying in Singapore despite hardship from the high cost of living.

Vidyananthan stressed that for those earning S$1,500 (RM4,500) per month, there was hardly anything for them to send back home after deducting living expenses.

Recently, Hasni said the state government would keep pushing for the reopening of its two land checkpoints with Singapore with a new standard operating procedure in June to create a travel bubble for regular commuters.

He said besides being vaccinated, the proposal would see 100,000 workers going to Singapore following a fixed route to and from their workplace, and not be allowed to travel to other parts of the country.

Hasni hoped that the new SOP proposed by Johor would provide some assurance for Singapore.

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