On Thursday (19 March), Malaysia’s Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob informed that Malaysia may temporarily lift the travel ban on Malaysian citizens who travel to Singapore for work, if they can be housed in Singapore.
This accounts to approximately half of the total 300,000 Malaysian citizens who currently work in Singapore.
He acknowledged the “worrying” situation of these Malaysian workers whose livelihoods were badly affected due to the country’s Restricted Movement Order (RMO) from 18 to 31 March, which also means closing its border with Singapore.
While speaking to reporters at a press conference at the Prime Minister’s office, Datuk Seri Ismail said, “We are negotiating and we have suggested that the 300,000 are allowed to continue working in Singapore on [the] condition [that] Singapore prepares lodgings for them.’’
He added, “This matter is under discussion. God willing, we will make an announcement soon.”
Datuk Seri Ismail, who is also the Defence Minister, added that issue had been deliberated by Malaysia Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin with his Singapore counterpart, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as well as between him and his Singapore counterpart, Mr Teo Chee Hean.
Additionally, Malaysia’s Senior Minister for Economy Mr Azmin Ali and his Singapore counterpart Mr Chan Chun Sing have also been discussing the matter.
Just a day earlier, the Johor state government had also voiced out a similar request to reopen the border with Singapore. Johor Menteri Besar Hasni Mohammad was quoted saying that this could be done by practicing stricter health checks at the border.
Separately, in a live press conference held today in Putrajaya, Datuk Seri Ismail had also stated that the military may be mobilised if Malaysians fail to adhere to the RMO introduced by the government to contain the spread of COVID-19.
He added, “As of now, I believe that it is unnecessary, but if there is no choice and if the compliance level remains at only 60 to 70 per cent, I believe there is a huge possibility that military troops will be mobilised.”