Malaysia hopes Singapore mulls flexibility of PCA

by BERNAMA / pic by TMR FILE

MALAYSIA is hoping that the Singaporean government can consider allowing Malaysian workers and diplomats under the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) scheme to be quarantined at their own residence.

“This is similar to the arrangement provided by the Malaysian government to Singaporean workers and diplomats in Malaysia,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (picture), who was on a two-day official visit to Singapore.

Speaking to the press yesterday, he said even though PCA is not suspended, he understood that the standard operating procedures or requirements have become stricter in which all Malaysian workers, including diplomats, will have to undergo their stay home notice upon returning to Singapore at designated facilities.

The scheme, a Safe Travel lane agreed between the two governments, kicked off in mid-August last year. In the meeting with his Singapore counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday, Hishammuddin said they discussed matters such as the gradual resumption of cross-border movements, national vaccination rollouts and the impending meeting between the prime ministers of both countries.

On the resumption of the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL), Hishammuddin also hopes that the scheme could be resumed as soon as possible to facilitate the movement of both business and official travels.

Singapore is currently suspending the RGL arrangements with Malaysia for a period of three months from Feb 1. As for the air travel bubble, the minister said consultations between both sides are still ongoing.

“We understand that the proposal comes with its own challenges, therefore, we urge the respective lead agencies on both sides to intensify their efforts and find a way to implement and operationalise this,” he said.

Commenting on the agreement reached to digitally read and verify health certificates issued by both countries, Hishammuddin hopes this will pave the way for further discussions between Malaysia and Singapore to allow vaccinated travellers to resume cross-border travel in the near future.

“This is an added value to ongoing negotiations, but on the operational side, more work needs to be done by the respective authorities to mutually recognise respective Covid-19 vaccination certificates, such as linking up Malaysia’s MySejahtera and Singapore’s TraceTogether,” he said.

In conclusion, Hishammuddin noted that both governments are working hard to implement what has been planned for the benefit of both countries and their people.

“To return to normalcy will take some time. We understand that families have been split and people have been kept apart, but we must take into account the most important factor which is public health.

“We must realise that our plans will be difficult to implement if the numbers continue to rise — this is the hard truth. But rest assured, both governments will continue negotiations, but our success very much depends on the role we all play to keep our numbers down,” he said.