Coronavirus: Reopening issues

Johor urges Malaysian govt to fully reopen border with Singapore

State's leader says he met PM Muhyiddin to discuss issue, pointing to harsh impact of border closure on economy

A practically deserted Causeway on Aug 21, after Malaysia introduced curbs in March and closed the border to Singapore in a move to halt the spread of Covid-19. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
A practically deserted Causeway on Aug 21, after Malaysia introduced curbs in March and closed the border to Singapore in a move to halt the spread of Covid-19. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

JOHOR BARU • The Malaysian state of Johor wants the federal authorities in Putrajaya to speed up the full reopening of the country's border with Singapore, says Menteri Besar Hasni Mohammad.

Datuk Hasni said he recently met Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to discuss the matter, adding that the Premier had asked Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob to look into it.

"Both governments are currently finding positive ways so that we can quickly open up the border between Malaysia and Singapore," said Mr Hasni, during the Johor Islamic Religious Council zakat handing-over ceremony on Monday.

He added that to date, more than 35,000 Johor residents working in Singapore have lost their jobs since the coronavirus pandemic started.

Mr Hasni said: "It has also affected more than 250,000 Malaysians who used to travel daily across the border, as the state's economy depends on the economy of our neighbouring country.

"The border reopening is also important as it contributes 50 per cent of the Customs revenue to the country."

He said he hopes the government would announce good news soon.

On July 26, Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and his Singapore counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan met at the halfway mark of the Causeway in a symbolic gesture to mark the agreement by both countries to reopen their borders on Aug 17 under the Reciprocal Green Lane and Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) schemes.

The border was closed after Malaysia introduced a movement control order to curb the spread of Covid-19 on March 18.

The green lane will enable cross-border travel for essential business and official purposes between Malaysia and Singapore up to a maximum of 400 people a week for stays of up to two weeks.

The PCA will allow residents of both countries who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country to enter that country for work, up to a maximum of 2,000 people a day.

ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES

It has also affected more than 250,000 Malaysians who used to travel daily across the border, as the state's economy depends on the economy of our neighbouring country. The border reopening is also important as it contributes 50 per cent of the Customs revenue to the country.

JOHOR MENTERI BESAR HASNI MOHAMMAD, on the impact of the border closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin last week expressed his hope that procedures for allowing workers to resume commuting daily between Malaysia and Singapore can be finalised soon. He said this was among issues discussed during a courtesy call by Singapore's High Commissioner to Malaysia, Mr Vanu Gopala Menon, on the Malaysian Premier at his office in Putrajaya last Thursday.

"I hope Malaysia and Singapore would quickly finalise the standard operating procedures relating to the proposal to allow the daily commuting of workers between both countries, in line with efforts to boost the national economy and help the workers who have been affected," Tan Sri Muhyiddin said in a Facebook post last Thursday.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 300,000 travellers used the Causeway every day.

There are two land crossings between Johor and Singapore - the Causeway in Woodlands and the Second Link in Tuas.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2020, with the headline 'Johor urges Malaysian govt to fully reopen border with Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe