Malaysia, Australia discuss possibility of reopening borders


KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia and Australia are discussing the possibility of reopening their borders as soon as possible, said Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

Speaking after meeting his visiting Australian counterpart Senator Marise Payne here on Saturday, he said the health ministers of both countries are also discussing on the matter and he is very hopeful that it can be concluded soon.

“The understanding is that, it has to be through stages. What those stages are, is to be announced later, as and when our ministers of health are ready, but as far as foreign ministers are concerned, we need to travel and we want people to travel,” he said in a joint news conference with Payne.

Earlier, Saifuddin and Payne co-chaired the fourth Malaysia-Australia Annual Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AFMM), which was the first after the Prime Ministers of Malaysia and Australia launched the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) on Jan 27, 2021.

Meanwhile, Payne noted that like Malaysia, Australia also had a very strict controls in place both domestically and at the country’s borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said Australia is gradually reopening its borders and is enthusiastic to receive the return of international travellers, including Malaysian international students.

“We know how much they value the opportunity, and we also are very welcoming of Malaysian students to Australia, so it’s not too far off.

“But we need to work through as the minister (Saifuddin) said, the various stages of both of our systems, around vaccinations, around health systems and take those steps but hopefully not too far away,” she said.

Both ministers said the meeting touched on various areas under the CSP framework such as trade and investment, education, tourism, defence, people-to-people ties, as well as post-COVID-19 cooperation.

Payne is on a three-day working visit to Malaysia from Friday until Nov 7.

During the visit, she is also scheduled to hold meetings with Senior Minister of Defence Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.