No reason to delay border reopening

NRC has suggested for the govt to reopen borders on March 1 with compliance to the SOPs set by the MoH 


THERE is no reason to keep Malaysia’s borders from reopening when other countries, especially those in the Asian region have decided to reopen their borders. 

Former Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture) said the National Recovery Council (NRC) had suggested for the government to reopen borders on March 1 with compliance to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the Health Ministry (MoH) to revive the tourism, trade and economic sectors. 

He noted that Malaysia’s GDP recorded a growth of 3.1% in 2021 from a contraction of 5.6% in 2020, mainly due to Perikatan Nasional’s efforts to combat the pandemic such as its vaccination programme followed by stimulus packages and the reopening of almost all economic sectors under the National Recovery Plan. 

“I do not see any reason to delay the decision to reopen borders when other countries whose vaccination programmes are not as great as ours have done so,” said Muhyiddin in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday during his debate on the royal address. 

The NRC chairman said several indicators from research bodies like the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research had shown that the economic recovery process is improving and Malaysia has attracted more than RM220 billion worth of investments which were approved last year in the services and manufacturing sectors. 

He however, noted that the figures are still below the normal years’ data and the country requires at least another two to three years before it can fully recover. 

“For example, tourism sectors such as hotels and transportations have not recovered because we have not fully reopened our borders for international travellers,” said Muhyiddin. 

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had previously said that the ministry has presented a date for border reopening to PM Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob. He said Ismail Sabri will announce the date by this week. 

In his debate, Muhyiddin also refuted claims made by former PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak that the government had not paid any of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) debts. 

He reminded Najib that 1MDB debts are guaranteed by the government and when the fund has failed to repay its debts including total interests of more than RM50 billion, the government would have to settle the debts. 

“As explained by the Minister of Finance in the honourable Dewan on March 3, the total amount of 1MDB debts that needs to be paid stood at RM38.8 billion as at February 2022, comprising RM32.3 billion principal debt and RM6.5 billion interest. 

“The finance minister had also informed us that the government had paid RM13.3 billion as at January,” he said. 

The Pagoh MP added that the special task force that had traced and brought back the money and assets of 1MDB that were hidden in foreign countries were formed during his tenure as the PM. 

“Imagine if Pekan (Najib) was still the PM. I do not think he would form a special task force to look for the money and assets relating to 1MDB that were lost because he was the one who lost them,” he said.