M’sia, S’pore reach accord to facilitate travel for select reasons

SINGAPORE: Malaysia and Singapore have agreed on the procedures and entry requirements for compassionate and emergency visits between their peoples amid stricter border measures.

The Death and Critically Ill Emergency Visits (DCEV) arrangement will be implemented from May 17, according to a joint statement issued yesterday by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and his Singapore counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

“This agreement provides a framework to facilitate travel between the two countries for compassionate and emergency reasons, ” it said.

Details of the procedures and entry requirements will be released by the Malaysian Immigration Department and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore.

Hishammuddin arrived here on Saturday for a two-day official visit at the invitation of Balakrishnan and to reciprocate the latter’s recent working visit to Malaysia. It was Hishammuddin’s first official visit to Singapore as Foreign Minister.

According to the statement, the ministers expressed their satisfaction that despite the challenges faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral relations and cooperation had remained intact and strong, as demonstrated by the uninterrupted movement of goods between both countries.

“The ministers had constructive discussions on strengthening bilateral cooperation amid the pandemic, and agreed to work towards the resumption of essential cross-border travel in a gradual and safe manner, ” it said.

The two ministers also welcomed the agreement reached by the Singapore Smart Nation and Digital Government Office and the Malaysian Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry on the mutual technical verification of health certificates issued in Singapore and Malaysia.

They agreed that both countries would continue to make progress on their respective national vaccination programmes to vaccinate long-term residents, including Malaysians residing in Singapore, and Singaporeans residing in Malaysia.

“The ministers agreed to continue discussions on further border reopening measures, which should be premised on the Covid-19 situation in both countries, and the health and safety of both peoples, ” it added.

Both foreign ministers also agreed on the importance of convening the 10th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat in Singapore later this year, once the pandemic situation improves.

Meanwhile, Hishammuddin said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin’s official visit to Singapore, scheduled for today, has been postponed to later this year.

“This is due to the Prime Minister’s current focus on addressing the rising Covid-19 numbers in Malaysia, ” he said.

Muhyiddin was to meet his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong to discuss and agree on a gradual resumption of cross-border travel, and to ease the movement of citizens between the two countries, Hishammuddin told the press.

However, he said, the current Covid-19 situation will not provide the right environment for both prime ministers to discuss and agree upon matters which “we know the people of both Malaysia and Singapore have long awaited for”.

“These negotiations, which are ongoing, require intense work across multiple agencies and ministries.

“But due to the fluidity of the situation with changing variables, it makes it very challenging for both sides to come up with a concrete and safe solution on cross-border movements for both our peoples.

“Public health must always be our priority, ” he added. — Bernama

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