KUDOS to our government for working with Singapore on the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA), which facilitates the movement of travellers/workers between both countries.
Under the PCA, approved travellers/employees are required to remain in their country of employment for at least 90 days before returning to their home country for short-term home leave. Cross-border entry under the PCA is only permitted via land at the Causeway and Second Link.
Upon entry into Singapore, PCA-approved travellers/employees are required to serve a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) before taking a Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. The intention is good and probably workable if the infection rate of both countries is the same.
However, there are two problems here. Firstly, the PCA seems to favour Malaysians residing in their country who work in Singapore but not the other way around.
The first group does not require quarantine if their Covid-19 tests are negative when they return to Malaysia. On the other hand, Malaysians residing in Singapore are required to undergo quarantine when returning to work/conduct business in Malaysia even if their tests are negative as they do not have a long-term social visit pass (LTSVP) number to even apply for the PCA.
This is unfair to our own citizens as Singaporeans/foreigners (residing in Singapore) are able to apply for PCA to enter Malaysia and get exempted from quarantine.
This also defies logic as Singapore has been having a much lower Covid-19 infection rate (there are many days without any local transmission). In fact, anyone travelling from countries with a much lower infection rate should be allowed into another country with a higher infection rate without undergoing quarantine to kick-start cross-border travelling. Otherwise, the whole world will never be able to open up since it would be very difficult to achieve low Covid-19 infection rates simultaneously and permanently.
Covid-19 is here to stay and there will be fluctuations in infection rates in every country from time to time for many years to come. We strongly urge Malaysia to take the lead and open up our country to people, tourists, business travellers and investors from countries with lower Covid-19 infection rates without undergoing quarantine as soon as possible in order to rejuvenate our badly-affected tourism and other economic sectors.
Or, at least, we hope the Malaysian immigration would quickly and clearly spell out equal entitlements to all Singapore residents (especially Malaysian citizens without the LTSVP number needed to apply for PCA) working/with business in Malaysia to enjoy the benefits of the PCA scheme and help contribute to the Malaysian economy.
DR LEE KIM TIONG
DR AB RAZAK SAMSUDIN and