When Singapore extended its Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme to 11 countries, its closest neighbour, Malaysia, was not on the list.
Some Malaysians, unhappy with this exclusion, then lashed out at Singapore for its decision not to include Malaysia in the list.
A Singaporean Facebook user Nadya Salyriana noted some comments online of Malaysians bashing Singaporeans on the government's VTL decision.
Don't understand why Malaysians reacted so strongly
In the Facebook post dated Oct. 10, Nadya said she didn't quite understand the negativity from Malaysians towards Singaporeans in the comments section of an article posted by a Malaysian news site Astro Awani.Some of the comments on Astro Awani's Facebook post said:
"Malaysia's government keep on insisting on reconnecting back with Singapore. But Singapore thinks highly of itself, while at the same time is dependent on Malaysia. Too bad that Malaysia's government is weak."
"Stop the lorries from delivering groceries, turn off the water supply. See whether Singapore can thrive without Malaysia."
"We should do the same towards Singapore as well. With the snobbish country, we shouldn't give face."
But some did not agree with the conduct of these Malaysians who are criticising Singapore.
"I am quite disappointed that netizens here are negative towards Singapore. Some are even racists. I hope that they are the minority and are not representative of Malaysians who are generally polite."
The comment was met with a warning by another user instead.
"Do good things reasonably. Singapore is also known as 'Little Israel'. I watched a preacher talking about it on Facebook. Don't be fooled so easily."
"Order of risk" involved with land travel is different from that of air travel
The co-chair of Singapore's Multi-Ministry Taskforce, Minister of Health Ong Ye Kung, had clarified on Oct. 9 that "it is really our common desire and I think is both countries' common desire to re-establish connection as early as we can," The Straits Times reported.
Minister of Finance Lawrence Wong added that any travel arrangement between Johor and Singapore, particularly over the Causeway, has to be looked at differently, unlike air travel, as the volume of people travelling between both sides across the land link can be large.
Therefore, the "order of risk" involved is quite different from air travel and has to be looked at differently and considered separately, he explained.
"As the situation in Malaysia improves, I have no doubt that over time it will be reflected in the category that it is in from Category IV… perhaps eventually to a different category before too long," Wong added.
Nevertheless, Wong and Transport Minister S. Iswaran said discussions between Singapore and Malaysia are ongoing, and that Singapore will keep updating its border measures accordingly.
More criteria besides percentage of vaccinated persons should be considered
Among the negative comments from Malaysian social media users, some argued for the opening of borders with Singapore on virtue of Malaysia having achieved more than 90 per cent vaccination rate for its adult population.
However, this should not be the only indicator to consider when it comes to border measures, according to the Malaysian government's Covid-19 Epidemiological Analysis and Strategies Task Force chairman, Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud.
Awang Bulgiba told The Straits Times that the reopening of borders must be deliberated upon carefully, and that for a start, Malaysia could set up bubbles with vaccinated countries that have low rates of infection.
He added that there are "many factors" that have to be taken into account for travel bubbles.
Malaysia recorded 7,420 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, Oct. 15, bringing its total cases to 2,377,033. An additional 88 deaths were reported on Oct. 14, bringing the pandemic-related death toll to 27,681.
Sehingga 15 Oktober 2021: Jumlah kes COVID-19 yang dilaporkan adalah 7,420 kes (2,377,033 kes).— Noor Hisham Abdullah (@DGHisham) October 15, 2021
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