Vital to keep border with S'pore open as 300,000 Malaysians depend on it for livelihood: Johor MB

JOHOR BARU: Close to 300,000 Malaysians depend on the land border between Johor and Singapore to earn a living and both countries intend to keep it open, says Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad.

He said this included the 141,000 Malaysians stuck in Singapore due to the closure of the border during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Transport companies involved in ferrying passengers between Johor and Singapore through the land Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL-Land) have been getting an overwhelming number of bookings.

"In our data, about 141,000 Malaysians have been stranded in Singapore for almost two years.

"And previously, when I was developing an application (Johor Immunity Planning System or IMMUPlan) to help those who wanted to work in Singapore get their vaccine earlier, a total of 115,000 people registered for the initiative.

"This means that there are almost 300,000 of our citizens who (used to) travel back and forth between Johor and Singapore to earn a living," he said in his speech at the launch of a town farm in conjunction with state-level World Town Planning Day celebration at Masjid Taman Impian Emas on Sunday (Dec 5).

He noted that both Singapore and Malaysia had agreed to keep the border open through the VTL-Land for the time being despite the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

"In my meeting with Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan during his visit to Johor a few days ago, he said closing the border again is a drastic measure that would only be taken as a last resort.

"Both governments have agreed to keep the border open while research and studies on the new variant are ongoing.

"In the next two to three weeks, we may be able to have a clearer picture on the effects and threats of the Omicron variant but till then, the border stays open," he said.

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