JOHOR BARU, Feb 27 — Six Pakatan Harapan and Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) candidates contesting in Southern Johor seats had come together to urge the government to open the borders to Singapore.

The candidates highlighted the plight of retailers, hawkers, transport operators and larger establishments that are highly reliant on travellers coming to and fro the Island.

The joint press conference was held in a small hawker centre in Taman Pelangi, less than one kilometre away from the Johor Causeway.

Stulang seat incumbent and candidate Andre Chen said the state government should pressure the federal government to open the border as they had failed to address adverse economic impact following the border closure which has left many people in Southern affected.

“If we cannot open the border then we should open the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) to include private vehicles and motorcycles.

“The logic is simple, the passengers in cars are already isolated so there is less danger of the virus spreading,” he said at the press conference this afternoon.

Candidates who were present in the press conference included Liew Chin Tong (Perling), Marina Ibrahim (Skudai) Liow Cai Tung (Johor Jaya) all from DAP, Dzulkefly Ahmad (Kota Iskandar) from Amanah and Amira Aisya Abdul Aziz (Puteri Wangsa) from Muda.

Dzulkefly meanwhile cited economic ties between Johor and Singapore that affects not only voters in Southern Johor but across the state.

He said previously the Malaysia My Second Home programme for expatriates saw a 42 per cent takeup of properties in Johor, largely by Singaporeans now facing restrictions due to prolonged border closure.

“Reopening the border will also help with unsold properties in Johor,” he said.

Amira Ausya meanwhile mentioned that border closures have caused a trickle effect affecting not only hotel owners but also its workers.

She also said fresh graduates facing limited job opportunities in Johor are struggling with the border closure, with no option to commute for work in Singapore.

“There are among those who previously commuted to Singapore forced to find rentals on the island, with a very high living cost,” she said.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng who also joined the press conference said that the border issue is not an election issue but an economic issue that should be addressed for the benefit of the people.

He said he will bring the issue to Parliament tomorrow.

“There are a lot of ministers in Johor to campaign now. It is a misuse of the government’s department. However, if they open the border now, if they invite me I will definitely come,” he said.

Meanwhile Liew who is also the DAP Johor chief went on to call upon both Barisan Nasional and Perikatan Nasional to state their stance on the border issue.

“This is our stance, now tell me yours,” he said.