Malaysia, Singapore hope to speed up vaccine certificate establishment

Both nations will progressively restore cross-border travel for other groups of travellers in addition to the RGL and PCA

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by BERNAMA

AFTER a year of struggling with Covid-19 and movement restrictions, Malaysia and Singapore expressed commitments to make travelling between both countries possible the soonest.

As a start, Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (picture; left) said both countries will find a way to recognise each other’s Covid-19 vaccine certificates, a move which will speed up cross-border movements between Malaysia and the republic.

In a joint press conference yesterday, Hishammuddin, who hosted the meeting with his Singaporean counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (right), said the operational details of the initiative are expected to be announced by next month.

As of now, both nations are working to exchange reliable information between each other’s health authorities, said Dr Balakrishnan.

“Vaccination programmes are being rolled out in both Singapore and Malaysia right now. Some of the vaccines we are using are identical, while the test and test regimes are similar.

“The exchange of reliable information between our Health Ministries will help build confidence to safely open our borders and allow travel again,” Dr Balakrishnan said.

He added that it is vital for decisions to be guided by the public health system, which is a paramount overriding concern.

He said a transparent system and close works between the countries will give better assurance to the public health before the economy and borders can be reopened.

Besides the vaccine certificate, Malaysia and Singapore are also looking into the possibilities of sharing data on Covid-19 test results.

In the meeting yesterday, Hishammuddin and Dr Balakrishnan said both nations will progressively restore cross-border travel for other groups of travellers in addition to the reciprocal green lane (RGL) and the periodic commuting arrangement (PCA), taking into account the Covid-19 situation in both countries.

One of the new agreements reached through the meeting was to allow “compassionate travel” by next month, an initiative which will allow family members to cross the borders due to urgent matters, such as critical health issues.

“This will allow those with family members on both sides to reunite, as well as resume businesses and tourism.

“Hopefully, in due time, we can look forward to a busier causeway and airport,” he said.

At present, Malaysians working in Singapore who wish to return to the country for compassionate reasons must put in an appeal.

On RGL travel arrangement with Malaysia which is currently suspended, Dr Balakrishnan said it might resume from May onwards as vaccination programmes are currently being rolled out in both countries.

Hishammuddin said all stakeholders including related ministries and the Johor government must be coordinated to facilitate the implementation of crossborder travel.

On international issues, both ministers expressed grave concern about the situation in Myanmar and hoped for national reconciliation between the parties or stakeholders in Myanmar, without any outside interference.

Dr Balakrishnan is on a two-day working visit to Malaysia starting yesterday, which is part of his regional tour which includes Brunei and Indonesia.

He also extended Singapore Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong’s invitation to PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for an official visit to Singapore soon.

On his trip, Dr Balakrishnan is scheduled to meet Muhyiddin and the Coordinating Minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar.

He is also scheduled to meet with Senior Minister (Economy Cluster) and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.


Read our previous report here

Malaysia, Singapore work on recognising vaccine certificates to facilitate cross-border travel