JOHOR BAHRU- The foreign ministers of Malaysia and Singapore today held a historic meeting at the midway point of the Johor Causeway and agreed to resume as early as Aug 17 cross-border travel that had been denied since March by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 10-minute meeting between Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Singapore Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan is the first physical one to be held after both countries closed their borders to contain the pandemic, starting with Malaysia after it implemented the Movement Control Order (MCO) on March 18.
Describing the meeting as one for the history books, Hishammuddin said the successful discussion that will soon lead to the reopening of the borders can be used as a ‘template’ for talks with other nations as well on matters concerning international travel.
“This meeting was specifically aimed at discussing the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA).
“We have reached an agreement where standard operating procedures on both sides have been finalised as well,” he told reporters at the conclusion of meeting here today. Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Ir Hasni Mohammad was also present.
With this new development, Malaysians eligible for both categories can submit their applications to the Immigration Department from Aug 10, Hishammuddin said.
“As for the third and fourth schemes, both governments need to fine-tune a number of things before they can be implemented. They are more towards security and health issues as COVID-19 is still a concern,” he added.
Standard operating procedure (SOP) compliance and good self-discipline during cross border travel under the RGL and PCA categories will determine whether the third and fourth categories will be agreed upon as well, Hishammuddin pointed out.
Movement under the third and fourth categories will also test the abilities of both countries in conducting COVID-19 screenings, he added.
Besides Singapore, Malaysia is also in discussions with Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Brunei and Japan on the implementation of the ‘green bubble’ travel concept.