JOHOR BARU • Malaysians and Singaporeans have hailed the move by their governments to allow for travel on compassionate grounds between the two countries.
Mother of three Norshikin Mohd Salleh, 39, described the announcement as good news, especially for those who have families in Johor and Singapore.
Her younger sibling, she said, is working in Singapore and they have not met for more than a year due to the border closure.
"Hopefully, the rules under the new travel method between Singapore and Malaysia will not be that complex, but make it easier for people to visit their loved ones who are sickly or to pay their respects to those who have passed away.
"This is a good start to having the border fully reopened, which would allow for daily travel especially for those who have jobs across the Johor Strait," she added.
Singaporean chef Mohammad Fahmi Abdul Rahman, 35, said his parents, who are in their 60s, live in Bandar Baru Uda in Johor.
"It is good that both governments are looking at allowing more people to travel between Malaysia and Singapore. This will help people like me visit their parents should there be an emergency," he said.
Malaysian Ungku Muhammad Imraan Ungku Jamaludin, 23, who is a Singapore permanent resident, said his 86-year-old grandmother lives across the Causeway.
Malaysia and Singapore agreed on Sunday that people from both countries can cross the border to be with those who are critically ill or to attend funerals.
In a joint statement, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart Hishammuddin Hussein said the arrangement will be implemented from May 17.
Details of the special travel arrangement on compassionate grounds will be released later, but these will include steps like testing visitors for the coronavirus as well as the need for quarantine, said Dr Balakrishnan.
Mr Michael Tay of the Malaysian Chinese Association in Johor and chief of the southern state's Covid-19 pandemic task force, said: "This is the first step towards having the two land borders fully reopened and even with the pandemic still going on, the two governments are finding ways to allow people from both sides to visit their loved ones."
Meanwhile, Malaysia-Singapore Workers Task Force president Dayalan Sreebalan urged both governments to expedite the procedures and entry requirements for people wanting to travel between the borders under this latest arrangement.
"We received more than 25 calls per day from Malaysians in Singapore who could not return home to visit their ill relatives or attend funerals due to the high cost of quarantine payment, which is more than $2,000.
"For Malaysians who have already been vaccinated in Singapore, do they have to be quarantined once they come back here and also once they return there?" he asked, adding that the authorities from both sides should make it clear for people wanting to travel under the scheme.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK