Malaysia and Singapore are considering the possibility of creating a special green lane pass for Malaysian workers who have already received their vaccination in the island republic.

If implemented, this could be good news to the thousands of Malaysians wo have been stranded in the neighbouring country since the COVID-19 pandemic broke.

The Star quoted Johor exco member in charge of investment, entrepreneur development, cooperative and human resource committee portfolio, Mohd Izhar Ahmad saying that discussions on the matter are ongoing between the two countries.

"Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will be meeting his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong early next month with the priority of reopening the two land checkpoints.

"This is not the first meeting between Malaysia and Singapore as many discussions have been held before," Mohd Izhar told the daily.

According to Mohd Izhar, however, several issues have to be ironed out before the proposal is implemented, such as both countries ensuring the COVID-19 situation is under control/

Last week, Johor Menteri Besar Hasni Mohammad said that as part of creating a travel bubble for those commuting to Singapore regularly, the 100,000 workers who have been vaccinated, and are making the trip down south, would need to follow a fixed route to and from their workplace, and not be allowed to travel to other parts of the country.

The new SOP proposed by the Johor state government would hopefully provide assurance for Singapore, Hasni had hoped.

Previously, two schemes, namely the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA), have been proposed to restore cross border travel between the two countries.

The RGL scheme will enable cross-border travels for essential business and official purposes between both countries, provided COVID-19 prevention and health measures, including taking swab tests, are followed, while the PCA scheme will allow both Malaysia and Singapore residents, who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country, to enter the said country for work.

The latter scheme would also enable such residents to spend up to three months in their country of work, and return to their home country for a brief break, before returning to their country of work for another three consecutive months.

In August last year, Singapore had agreed on implementing the RGL travel agreement with Malaysia but the scheme was suspended following a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia, last September.

It is estimated that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, some 250,000 people used to travel between Malaysia and Singapore daily.

It was previously reported that the border closure between the two countries at the height of the pandemic caused 20,000 Malaysians to be "stranded" in the island republic, and those who wish to return to the country for compassionate reasons have to put in an appeal. This is on top of the expensive quarantine fees that they already have to fork out upon arrival in Malaysia.

Source: The Star
Photo source: The Straits Times