Implementing cross-border travel programs between Singapore and Malaysia was a ‘good decision’: Chief Minister of Johor


JOHOR BAHRU: The decision by the two governments to implement cross-border travel programs between Singapore and Malaysia – the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) – was the right one, the minister said in leader of Johor, Hasni Mohammad.

He also stressed that future arrangements that would facilitate daily travel would depend on the rate of compliance with security protocols.

Speaking to TBEN in an exclusive interview on Thursday, November 19, Hasni noted that since the implementation of the PCA and RGL in August, the number of Malaysians and Singaporeans passing through ground checkpoints in Johor has “significantly increased”.

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“For the government, it is a good decision to authorize (resume) travel in stages. Looking at the figures for the RGL category, we notice that it helps a lot of businessmen and legal persons to continue with their routine, ”he said.

“And for those with a work permit, the standard operating procedures (SOPs) introduced for PCA are fine for them. So I suppose that we will continue to improve the procedures, ”he added.

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The PCA allows citizens of Singapore and Malaysia or Permanent Residents (PRs) who hold long-term business and professional immigration passes in the other country to enter that country for work.

Meanwhile, the RGL is intended for residents of Malaysia and Singapore who wish to take short trips of up to 14 days, for essential business and official purposes.

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During the interview, Hasni also expressed hope that existing programs would eventually pave the way for the full reopening of borders once the COVID-19 situation improves.

“I think the SOP compliance rate will ultimately decide how we move forward,” Hasni said.

He noted that factors such as testing procedures and screening processes will need to be addressed before Singapore and Malaysia are convinced to reopen the border to travelers.

People who had just arrived in Singapore from Johor, Malaysia, walking to a chartered bus at Woodlands Checkpoint on August 17, 2020 (Photo: Try Sutrisno Foo)

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During the interview, Mr. Hasni was also asked to comment on a third program that the Johor state government has reportedly proposed – the Daily Commuting Arrangement (DCA).

He explained that the proposed program would allow up to 30,000 commuters per day.

In order to facilitate this, he said the state government would issue, for example, travel passes every 10 days and that commuters could use the passes to cross the border about three times during this period.

In addition, he said the state government had suggested the use of nine accredited laboratories capable of performing COVID-19 tests for travelers, and would urge local health professionals to step up testing and testing procedures. screening.

The Benut State assembly explained that this program will be useful for students as well as Malaysians employed in Singapore who have to commute daily.

“Now we have started with RGL and PCA. Maybe DCA is something the state will never stop pushing the federal government to come up with SOPs to advance more categories of travelers, ”Mr. Hasni said.

“We have proposed, we have taken the necessary steps for the federal government, as well as the Singapore Ministry of Health, to sit down and assess our proposal,” he added.

View of empty timber causeway between Singapore and Malaysia after a lock was imposed by Malaysia

A view of the empty woodland causeway between Singapore and Malaysia after Malaysia imposed a travel lockdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on March 18, 2020. REUTERS / Edgar Su

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The chief minister said the program will boost Johor’s economy, which has been severely affected by COVID-19.

Prior to the implementation of border restrictions in March, around 300,000 Malaysians crossed the border daily for work. The restrictions have left many of them out of work.

Mr Hasni added that he had urged Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, via video conference at a meeting of the National Security Council earlier this week, to consider the DCA proposal presented by the Johor state government. .

“I took the opportunity to point out to the Prime Minister that Johor needed an urgent decision, a quick decision, from the federal government. The Prime Minister assured Johor that the special committee will meet on this DCA request and that the Foreign Ministry will be involved and coordinated to expedite the DCA category for travelers (once approved), ”Mr. Hasni.

However, the chief minister acknowledged that possible factors that could influence the committee’s decision would be the recent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country, with new groups forming every day.

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Malaysia is grappling with a third wave of the pandemic. This week, the number of new cases of COVID-19 on most days was over 1,000. There are now over 53,000 cases nationwide.

The Singapore government on Friday announced that it would impose a 14-day home notice period at dedicated facilities on all travelers entering Malaysia, including those on RGL or PCA.

Johor has not been immune to the spread of the coronavirus in recent weeks.

On Thursday and Friday, two new groups were detected in the southern state – Kiambang and Makmur respectively.

However, Mr Hasni argued during the interview that positive cases in Johor have been located in specific areas.

On Friday, the federal government announced that the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) will be lifted in four states (Johor, Kedah, Melaka and Terengganu), with the exception of a few districts.

In a statement following the federal announcement, Hasni welcomed the move, saying the announcement “brought relief” to many Johorians.

“Even though the CMCO is lifted from tomorrow, I would like to advise all Johorians to always adhere to the SOPs in all your daily activities,” he said.

“Remember that the pandemic is still ongoing until a vaccine or a medical cure is found. Therefore, we are working together to curb the spread of COVID-19,” added Hasni.

During the interview with the TBEN, Mr. Hasni said he was convinced that the recent increase in cases would not impact the potential implementation of the DCA.

He said that while there are some areas with a higher concentration of positive cases, he was optimistic that the areas would be contained and managed effectively, as has been done for previous clusters in the state.

“Whatever assistance was required, everyone was happy and finally, within a short period of time, we manage to get back to RMCO,” Mr. Hasni said.

“I guess when everyone is happy with the current SOPs, I don’t see why there is a need to delay DCA,” he added.

Tune in to TBEN on Monday morning from 7 a.m. to find out more about what the Chief Minister has to say about Johor’s economy and cooperation with Singapore.

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