Cover Singapore and Malaysia's Meeting in KL (Image: Vivian Balakrishnan)

Could we be looking at the restarting of weekend trips across the border?

Malaysia and Singapore are currently working work towards recognising vaccine certificates from each country. It was announced on March 23 that this move would facilitate cross-border travel in the future and would aid in the recovery of both countries. Malaysia’s borders have been closed to foreigners as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic since March 16, 2020.

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During the meeting, which took place in Kuala Lumpur between Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Malaysia’s Foreign Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, the two countries also agreed to begin to allow cross-border travel for people on compassionate grounds. This move will likely be carried out next month.  

In a joint statement, Dr Balakrishnan said: “We are going to try to get some details, operationalised next month.”

Currently, all Malaysians who work in Singapore have to submit an appeal if they wish to return to Malaysia on compassionate grounds.

The countries also agreed to slowly allow cross-border travel for more groups of travellers while also considering the Covid-19 situation in both countries and the safety of the public. This is in addition to the reciprocal green lane and the periodic commuting arrangement that currently exists.

At the meeting, both Malaysia and Singapore also vowed to continue vaccinating their long-term residents. This includes Malaysians residing in Singapore and Singaporeans who live in Malaysia.

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The details regarding the recognition of vaccine certificates in cross border travel, which will include health protocols, application processes and requirements, will be further discussed by Malaysia and Singapore and will be finalised in the coming months.  

In the released statement, it was also noted that the ministers had reviewed bilateral cooperation and were looking forward to working together in their efforts to recover from the effects of the pandemic. The ministers are also eager to work towards restarting face-to-face bilateral engagements particularly during the 10th Leaders Retreat which is to be hosted by Singapore this year.

The meeting was an optimistic start to what will hopefully be the reopening of our borders and the start of free and safe travel once again.

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