Foreign minister: Malaysia hopes Singapore consider flexibility on Periodic Commuting Arrangement scheme

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein speaks during the 8th US-Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur November 15, 2020. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein speaks during the 8th US-Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur November 15, 2020. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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SINGAPORE, May 2 — Malaysia hopes that the government of Singapore can consider giving flexibility in allowing Malaysian workers and diplomats under the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) scheme to be quarantined at their own residence.

“This is similar to the arrangement provided by the Malaysian government to Singaporean workers and diplomats in Malaysia,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who arrived here yesterday for a two-day official visit to Singapore.

Speaking to the press today, he said even though PCA is not suspended, he understands that the standard operating procedures (SOP) or requirements have become stricter in which all the Malaysian workers, including diplomats, will have to undergo their Stay Home Notice (SHN) upon returning to Singapore at designated facilities.

The scheme, a Safe Travel Lane agreed between the two governments, kicked off in mid-August last year.

In the meeting with his Singapore counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan today, he said they discussed matters such as the gradual resumption of cross-border movements, national vaccination rollouts, and the impending meeting between the Prime Ministers of both countries.

On the resumption of the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL), Hishammuddin also hoped that the scheme could be resumed as soon as possible to facilitate the movement of both business and official travels.

*Singapore is currently suspending the RGL arrangements with Malaysia for a period of three months from Feb 1.

As for the Air Travel Bubble, the minister said consultations between both sides are still ongoing.

“We understand that the proposal comes with its own challenges, therefore we urge the respective lead agencies on both sides to intensify their efforts and find a way to implement and operationalise this,” he said.

Touching on the agreement reached to digitally read and verify health certificates issued by both countries, Hishammuddin said : “We hope this agreement will pave the way to further discussions between Malaysia and Singapore to finalise an agreement for vaccinated travellers to resume cross-border travel in the near future.

“This is a value add to ongoing negotiations but on the operational side, more work needs to be done by the respective agencies and authorities to mutually recognise our respective Covid-19 vaccination certificates such as linking up our respective platforms – MySejahtera for Malaysia, and TraceTogether — for Singapore,” he said.

An agreement has been reached between the Singapore Smart Nation and Digital Government Office and the Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation to digitally read and verify health certificates issued by both countries.

In conclusion, Hishammuddin noted that both governments are working very hard to implement whatever they have planned after all this is for the benefit of both peoples.”

“To return to normalcy will take same time. We understand that families have been split, people have been kept apart – but we must take into account the most important factor which is public health.

“We must realise that our plans will be difficult to implement if the numbers continue to rise – this is the hard truth. But rest assured, both governments will continue negotiations, but our success very much depends on the role we all play to keep our numbers down. — Bernama

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