Coronavirus: Singapore and Malaysia to set up green lane, commuting arrangement

The Reciprocal Green Lane will facilitate cross-border travel for essential business and official purposes between both countries.
The Reciprocal Green Lane will facilitate cross-border travel for essential business and official purposes between both countries.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

A green lane and periodic commuting arrangement will be established between Singapore and Malaysia to meet the needs of different groups of cross-border travellers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced yesterday following a telephone call between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

The two leaders, who spoke on Friday, had discussed the gradual and phased resumption of cross-border travel between Singapore and Malaysia.

The Reciprocal Green Lane will facilitate cross-border travel for essential business and official purposes between both countries. Travellers would have to adhere to a set of Covid-19 prevention and public health measures, which are still under discussion and will have to be mutually agreed upon by both countries.

The Periodic Commuting Arrangement will allow Singapore and Malaysia residents who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country to periodically return to their home countries for short-term home leave.

They will be able to return home for leave after spending at least three consecutive months in their country of work, and they will be allowed to re-enter their country of work after their home leave.

In the call, PM Lee reiterated Singapore's commitment to address the needs of Singaporeans and Malaysians who were previously commuting between both countries.

Both leaders agreed that any bilateral arrangement would have to include mutually agreed public health protocols. This is meant to preserve the public health and safety of citizens on both sides while considering the medical resources available in both countries.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong earlier this month said it was "quite clear" that the two countries will not return to the pre-pandemic situation of large numbers of commuters freely crossing the border each day.

He said the resumption of travel in a safe way "would mean looking at testing protocols in place on both sides before the travellers can come back and forth". If not every one can be tested, then a combination of strategies may be needed, including requiring some groups to serve a quarantine period upon arrival, he added.

Mr Wong said the Singapore authorities are still in the midst of working out details with their Malaysian counterparts, including the number of people who will be allowed to travel between the countries, and from which industries.

The MFA said yesterday the two countries will continue discussions on other proposals to gradually facilitate further cross-border movement of people.

The Periodic Commuting Arrangement will allow Singapore and Malaysia residents who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country to periodically return to their home countries for short-term home leave.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 28, 2020, with the headline 'Singapore and Malaysia to set up green lane, commuting arrangement'. Subscribe