Johor politician calls for resumption of travel between S’pore & Malaysia

The politician also called for a "green lane" to be set up.

Jean Chien Tay | August 31, 2021, 06:56 PM

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After more than a year of Singapore and Malaysia border closures, several Malaysian leaders and opinion leaders are calling on Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Malaysia's new prime minister, to prioritise the resumption of travel between the two countries.

UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) Youth exco member Bastien Onn reportedly said Sabri must do whatever he can to convince neighbouring Singapore that the pandemic in Malaysia, primarily Johor, is under control, The Star reported.

Bastien, who's also the chief of UMNO's youth division in Segamat, Johor, also called for the Sabri administration to work on setting up a mechanism to allow Malaysians and Singaporeans to cross the border daily.

Expert: reopening beneficial to both countries

Speaking to The Star, Bastien elaborated that an average of 200,000 Malaysians would cross the Johor Bahru causeway to work in Singapore prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, as Singapore "needed the manpower".

He believes that cross-border travel should resume once the Malaysian government can convince Singapore that the Covid-19 situation in Johor is under control.

Echoing Bastien's calls, associate professor L. Nanthakumar said that reopening the causeway as soon as possible will be key to both countries' economy.

The lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (Malaysia University of Technology) added that Malaysia should "hasten" their vaccination effort and establish a "green lane" to facilitate travel for vaccinated individuals.

He further stated that "Singapore needs Malaysian workers", while Malaysia depends on investments from Singapore to "drive up" their economy.

Singaporean make up almost 40% of tourists in Malaysia

Meanwhile, an advisor from the SME Association of South Johor, Teh Kee Sin, expressed the importance of Singapore's role as one of the main sources of foreign direct investments in the last decade.

Teh added that Singaporean tourists can boost the tourism sector of Malaysia, as they are "big spenders" and among the biggest group of tourists to visit Malaysia.

According to statistics from Tourism Malaysia, over 10 million Singaporeans visited Malaysia in 2019, making up almost 40 per cent of tourists in Malaysia.

"We hope fully vaccinated Singaporeans and Malaysians are allowed to travel in and out of both countries so that we can see economic activities in Johor and our city area thrive again," Teh told The Star.

PM Lee invited Sabri to visit Singapore

Upon Sabri's recent confirmation as Malaysia's ninth prime minister, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted on Facebook that he phoned the new leader to congratulate him.

PM Lee also mentioned Sabri's previous role in the Singapore-Malaysia Special Working Committee on Covid-19 that oversaw the "continued movement of people and good" across the borders.

In his post, PM Lee also extended an invitation for Sabri to visit Singapore, where they could discuss partnerships and expanding cooperation between the two governments.

However, Sabri is currently in quarantine after having close contact with a Covid-19 patient.

It is unclear how many days his quarantine will last though.

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Top image via Creative Commons & Ismail Sabri Yaakob/Facebook