Malaysia and Singapore are currently working out the operational details of the bilateral COVID-19 vaccine certificate recognition system, which includes detailed requirements, health protocols, and application process involved for entry and exit into both countries.
In a joint statement on Tuesday (23 Mar), both countries’ Foreign Affairs Ministries said that Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart Hishammuddin Hussein “had a constructive discussion on their respective national vaccination roll-out plans which are underway in Malaysia and Singapore”.
They had also discussed how plans for the national vaccination drive in both countries “could facilitate cross-border travel between both countries in the near future”.
Both governments seek to inoculate long-term residents, including Malaysians residing in Singapore and Singaporeans residing in Malaysia, as well as to “progressively restore” cross-border travel for other groups of travellers, on top of the Reciprocal Green Lane and Periodic Commuting Arrangement, the ministries said.
The “public health and safety of the residents of both countries” and the current COVID-19 situation, however, remain paramount in assessing the next steps to take in terms of restoring cross-border travel.
Both ministers, according to the statement, had also discussed convening the 10th Leaders’ Retreat, slated to be hosted by Singapore this year.
They also agreed to work towards resuming face-to-face bilateral engagements, the statement read.
Both ministers looked forward to “strengthening cooperation to stimulate recovery from the effects of the global pandemic”, according to the statement.
Dr Balakrishnan is on a two-day visit to Malaysia from 23 to 24 March.
In a statement today, MFA said that Dr Balakrishnan’s visit “underscores the close relations and extensive cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia, and aims to strengthen bilateral cooperation to stimulate recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic”.
Other than Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin, Dr Balakrishnan is slated to meet Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Senior Minister and Minister of International Trade and Industry Mohamed Azmin Ali, Senior Minister and Minister of Defence Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin during the visit.
A couple of netizens expressed hope for an expedient process in both governments’ efforts to allow the resumption of cross-border travel.
One commenter said: “It makes sense to bypass quarantine and testing for people who are already vaccinated. At least, try this out on a short group tour to Malaysia to see how it goes.”
One commenter suggested that the Singapore government could store a token in either SingPass or TraceTogether app.
“That way, once a person checks in to the airport, you immediately know if the person is vaccinated or not, instead of carrying around one interface after another,” they said.
However, several other commenters questioned if cross-border travel is feasible in the near future, given how few people have taken the COVID-19 vaccines and how many are still waiting to be vaccinated.
“Vaccinate 70% of Malaysia, That is going to be a looooong wait,” said one commenter.
One commenter said that plans to allow those who have been vaccinated to bypass quarantine and testing is an “unwise” move, citing the case of three Hawaii residents who ended up testing positive for COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated.