Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA — Malaysia is currently considering allowing citizens of neighbouring countries in the COVID-19 “green zone” such as Singapore and Brunei into the country without requiring them to undergo tests for the virus.
Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob in a press conference on Friday (19 June) added that Singaporeans and Bruneians may not have to apply for entry to Malaysia to the Immigration Department, or to undergo self-quarantine at home.
Ismail Sabri stressed, however, that the above are subject to the same exemptions given to Malaysians by the governments of the two countries, as well as further discussions between Malaysia’s Foreign Minister and his counterparts.
Malaysia’s previous deputy health minister Lee Boon Chye told Free Malaysia Today on Friday that the Johor-Singapore borders can be treated as “parts of a travel bubble that may not need stringent daily testing” as “cases involving citizens of the two countries are low”.
He noted that Malaysians are not part of the clusters of infected migrant workers in Singapore.
Those who commute between Johor Bahru and Singapore, said Dr Lee, should be required to download and utilise MySejahtera — Malaysia’s contact tracing app — and Singapore’s TraceTogether.
“Both apps will pick up signals of their movements,” he said.
Dr Lee was responding to a report in which Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mustapa Mohamed was quoted as saying that the government had received a proposal to implement a travel bubble with neighbouring countries but had not decided on the matter.
Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein on Wednesday (16 June) earlier tweeted about discussing with his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan regarding the situation of workers commuting to and fro between Johor and Singapore.
Following my meeting with Johor’s Menteri Besar @Hasni_Johor yesterday, I had a video call with my counterpart and ???????? Singapore’s Foreign Minister HE @VivianBala just now focusing on workers commuting between the Johor-Singapore border. pic.twitter.com/93lJUrP3vz
— Hishammuddin Hussein (@HishammuddinH2O) June 16, 2020
Earlier this month, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said that it is “prepared to work with Malaysia to address the needs of cross-border travellers, including short-term business and official travellers, and Malaysian workers who were previously commuting between Singapore and Malaysia”.
Such arrangements, said MFA, must include “mutually agreed public health protocols to allow the safe resumption of cross-border movement”.
Both Singapore and Malaysia will need time to negotiate and confirm the details of the agreements depending on the coronavirus’ situation in both countries.
“In the meantime, Singapore will continue with practical measures to enable Malaysians to continue working in Singapore,” said the Ministry.