S'pore, Malaysia to work towards mutual recognition of Covid-19 vaccine certs, progressively restore cross-border travel

Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (right) meeting with Malaysian counterpart Hishammuddin Hussein, in Kuala Lumpur on March 23, 2021. PHOTO: VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN/FACEBOOK
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan also called on Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin during his visit to Kuala Lumpur. PHOTO: VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN/FACEBOOK

PUTRAJAYA - Singapore and Malaysia on Tuesday (March 23) agreed to work towards recognising each other's vaccine certificates to facilitate cross-border travel in the future.

The two neighbouring countries also agreed to allow cross-border travel on compassionate grounds in the coming months.

At a meeting in Putrajaya on Tuesday, Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, agreed to progressively restore cross-border travel for other groups of travellers in addition to the existing Reciprocal Green Lane and the Periodic Commuting Arrangement.

Singapore and Malaysia will take into account the Covid-19 situation on both sides and ensure the "public health and safety of the residents of both countries".

In a joint statement, the two sides vowed to continue to make progress on their respective national programmes to vaccinate long-term residents, including Malaysians residing in Singapore and Singaporeans residing in Malaysia.

The two ministers had a constructive discussion on the national vaccination roll-out plans that are under way in both countries and discussed how this could facilitate cross-border travel in the near future, the statement said.

The operational details of the Reciprocal Recognition of Vaccine Certificate, including the detailed requirements, health protocols, and application process involved for entry and exit into Malaysia and Singapore will be further deliberated and finalised by both parties.

"Hopefully, by the time the two prime ministers meet, we will be able to make some announcements," Dr Balakrishnan told reporters.

The ministers also discussed the convening of the 10th Leaders' Retreat, which will be hosted by Singapore this year, and agreed to work towards restarting face-to-face bilateral engagements, the joint statement said.

The ministers also reviewed bilateral cooperation and looked forward to strengthening cooperation to stimulate recovery from the effects of the global pandemic, it added.

Both ministers reaffirmed "the excellent and longstanding relations between Malaysia and Singapore" and highlighted the importance of strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation in overcoming common challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, including the resumption of people-to-people movements, while safeguarding the public health and safety of residents in both countries, the statement said.

In a Facebook post, Dr Balakrishan said he was "delighted to be back in Malaysia after more than a year", adding that "there is no substitute for meeting face to face".

Speaking at a joint press conference, both ministers expressed concern on the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and said they are concerned about the action being taken on civilians there.

Dr Balakrishnan, who is on a two-day visit to Malaysia, on Tuesday called on Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and met Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin. Dr Balakrishnan will also be meeting Senior Minister (Economy) Azmin Ali and Senior Minister (Defence) Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

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