Singapore—The Chief Minister of Johor said in a recent interview with CNA that concentrating on lowering the number of cases must take priority at the moment.
And when infections have decreased to an “acceptable level”, he believes that Singapore will consider reopening its borders.
Mr Hasni Mohammad told CNA that the two counties have agreed to pause discussions on cross-border travel while Malaysia grapples with its third Covid-19 wave.
The Chief Minister added that the onus lies on Malaysia at the moment. ”The ball is in our court now. We just have to make sure that more effort is being put towards reducing the number of cases in Johor. And I believe once the number is reduced to an acceptable level, Singapore will consider our request to reopen the borders again.”
Malaysia is currently under a nationwide lockdown, the third since the pandemic began. The lockdown will last until June 14 in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19 infections, which have been at their highest level.
The country now has over half a million cases, after 7,703 new infections were reported on June 2 (Wednesday). Johor saw 554 new infections.
Mr Hasni underlined the need for Johor to ensure its residents get vaccinated as quickly as possible so that the economic activity in the state “is able to resume to its original level”.
The aim is for 80 per cent of Johor’s residents to be vaccinated by October, he added.
As for now, “economic frontliners” who have jobs in Singapore and want to commute between the countries will be among the first 100,000 residents to be vaccinated.
This is part of the ImmuPlan Johor initiative, with vaccinations of the “economic frontliners” beginning in July. They will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
There are 70,000 people who have qualified for the initiative so far, the Chief Minister said.
He also talked to CNA about the Malaysian workers in Singapore, specifically about those who have long-term immigration passes and are allowed to go home after 90 days of work in Singapore.
Some of these workers have found the S$3,000 cost of the 21-day quarantine when they return to Singapore too expensive.
They also need to serve a two-week quarantine when they enter Malaysia, where they are charged up to RM150 (S$48) a day.
The Chief Minister told CNA that he hopes authorities in Singapore would consider lowering the cost of serving the 21-day stay-home notice.
Mr Hasni explained, “It’s not that they can’t pay, but it will help if they can have extra to spend and … protect their (finances).”
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