KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and Singapore are discussing the possibility of reopening their borders soon, says Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (pic).
The Foreign Minister assured lawmakers in Dewan Rakyat after several of them raised the plight of Malaysians who have not seen their families since borders closed due to the pandemic.
"I am aware that the issue is not just about Covid-19 but also about those who have been separated from loved ones even before the start of the pandemic.
"I will try to see how we can overcome this together," he said during his ministerial reply on the motion of thanks on the Royal Address on Thursday (Sept 23).
Saifuddin said the matter has been brought to the attention of Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein who heads the committee to manage the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
"I was also informed that the Health Minister was in a telephone conversation with his Singaporean counterpart on how borders can be reopened between the two countries.
"I pray and hope that the matter can be resolved as soon as possible," he said.
Saifuddin said that the reopening of borders between Malaysia and Singapore would pave the way for the country to open up air routes with other countries such as Thailand.
He was responding to the issue raised by Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (Ind-Muar), who said he has received numerous pleas from Malaysians, who have not seen their loved ones for two years.
"This has led to mental problems for some including divorces between married couples who have been separated," Syed Saddiq said.
Steven Choong (Ind-Tebrau) suggested allowing Malaysians, who are certified as fully vaccinated, to return home once a month to see their families.
Choong said the reciprocal green lane arrangement between the two countries was for Singaporeans who had subsidiary companies in Malaysia and did not benefit the thousands of Malaysian blue-collar workers in the island republic.
Saifuddin said that both countries had previously concluded a periodic commuting arrangement scheme that allowed Malaysian workers or permanent residents to return to the country for brief visits.
He said the scheme has helped many Malaysians return to the country for a brief stay before returning to Singapore to resume work.
On a separate matter, Saifuddin said that the government has agreed to the setting up of a bi-partisan parliamentary special select committee on foreign affairs.
He added that he has submitted the request to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun.