Malaysia-S'pore land travel likely to resume once issues settled, says KL's envoy

Presently, Malaysia has two land crossings with Singapore, one of which is the Causeway.
Presently, Malaysia has two land crossings with Singapore, one of which is the Causeway.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The introduction of the Singapore-Malaysia vaccinated travel lane (VTL) for air travellers beginning on Nov 29 is the first step in reopening travel between the two countries in the near future, said the Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore.

Datuk Azfar Mohamad Mustafar said the relevant agencies in Malaysia and Singapore were ironing out related issues such as health, testing regimes and cross-border processes.

"These are minor issues that I am sure will be sorted out soon," he said, adding that reopening the land border was a bit more complex than the VTL.

He cautioned that it would not be like pre-Covid-19 levels, when almost 200,000 to 300,000 people travelled between the two countries daily.

"For a start, we would need to have a controlled opening. That means limiting the number of daily commuters," he said in an interview.

He added that unlike the other cross-border travel schemes introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) and the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL), the land VTL would be attractive as it did not require a quarantine on both sides.

Under the PCA, all travellers need to serve seven days of quarantine at designated facilities or hotels upon arriving in Malaysia, while the RGL has been suspended indefinitely due to the Covid-19 situation.

Asked if it was true that as an initial move, the land VTL would be open to those using public transport such as trains and buses, Dr Azfar said: "I think this will be easier to manage instead of allowing people to drive their own cars and motorcycles across the Causeway."

Dr Azfar said relations between Malaysia and Singapore have always been strong and that he was confident any issue would be ironed out by the technical teams doing the negotiations on the two land borders reopening.

Presently, Malaysia has two land crossings with the island republic via the Causeway and the Second Link.

On Monday (Nov 8), Malaysia and Singapore announced that they would reopen their mutual border with the VTL between Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Changi Airport from Nov 29.

Under the VTL, fully vaccinated travellers would be able to travel between both countries, subject to a Covid-19 test in lieu of serving a quarantine or stay-home notice.