Brunei, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Japan have been identified as possible destinations for the scheme, apart from Singapore and Indonesia
by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) is finalising proposals that would make way for the expansion of Malaysia’s travel bubble via the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) to another five countries.
Its minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said countries including Brunei, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Japan have been identified as possible destinations for the scheme, apart from Singapore and Indonesia.
“Once the respective countries have agreed to open their borders for us, we will be at the ready. We have to keep in mind that this travel plan is not for leisure.
“On our part, we are already prepared with standard operating procedures (SOPs). At the working level, (the ministries from the countries) we have been talking to each other,” she said during a virtual press conference on the annual Chinese New Year (CNY) Malaysia Open House yesterday.
For the time being, Malaysia will monitor the green zones in respective countries to determine the right time for the RGL to be executed.
In July last year, Malaysia and Singapore introduced two travel schemes, the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) and RGL to facilitate the travel arrangement for working residents in both countries.
The RGL enables cross-border travels for essential business and official purposes for the two countries, while the PCA will allow Malaysians and Singaporeans, who hold a long-term immigration pass for business and work purposes in the other country, to cross the border.
However, Singapore suspended its RGL arrangements with three countries, including Malaysia, for three months until April due to the increased Covid-19 cases globally.
Earlier this month, Malaysia also secured a similar arrangement to facilitate working individuals in Malaysia and Indonesia to travel between the two countries.
Nancy said previously Malaysia had proposed for transparency and standardisation of cross-border SOPs for travels which is based on the advice and recommendation from health agencies of each respective country.
On a separate matter, Nancy said 79 hotels are currently participating in the national programme to locate foreign workers who are currently in Malaysia at hotels to sort their poor living conditions.
The programme is also aimed at addressing the Covid-19 transmission at workplaces involving foreign workers’ dormitories and living quarters.
“(The ministry) has been talking to various employers and hotels and there are some interests received for the programme.
“At the moment, we have 79 hotels registered to take part but in terms of the participants from the employers. It has not been finalised yet, and the labour department will manage that,” she said.
Motac said the programme offers a hotel room for RM200 per month per person with an additional RM20 per worker for the monthly charge to cover electricity and water.
Other amenities provided include food and laundry of which will be borne either by the workers or the employers.
On the CNY Malaysia Open House, Nancy said the annual national event will be held virtually this year due to the movement restriction and to observe the Covid-19 SOPs.
She said the virtual celebration, which will be televised, will include various cultural performances.
Read our previous report here