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Talks with Singapore in the pipeline for mutual recognition of vaccine certs, says Muhyiddin

The National Recovery Council chairman says Singapore agrees in principle but is being 'cautious' as both countries are still dealing with the Covid situation.

2 minute read
The causeway between Johor and Singapore is seen congested with traffic in this file photo. Photo: AFP
The causeway between Johor and Singapore is seen congested with traffic in this file photo. Photo: AFP

Malaysia and Singapore will undertake efforts to recognise each other’s Covid-19 vaccination certificates to facilitate border crossings, National Recovery Council (MPN) chairman Muhyiddin Yassin says.

Muhyiddin said he had recently discussed this with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who agreed in principle.

For the time being, he said Singapore was being cautious about opening its borders as both countries are still dealing with Covid-19 cases, while the vaccination process on both sides of the border is not yet completed.

“Malaysians want to visit Singapore and they want to come here too as both countries share close ties, including daily business activities.

“And when the borders can’t be opened, this turns out to be a big problem,” he told reporters after a meeting with Johor Bersatu leaders here today.

To date, the only cross-border activity allowed involves lorry and trailer drivers who have had their vaccine shots in Singapore.

Muhyiddin said if there is a breakthrough between both countries on the matter, it will also pave the way for similar talks with other nations including Thailand.

“In our meetings, we have already started discussing the (possibility of) opening up our borders, either for foreign tourists or just for Malaysians.

“We will also examine data and science and seek the views of experts, including at the health ministry level and also look at border security issues under the home ministry,” he said.

Besides border crossing, Muhyiddin said issues concerning unemployment, including among graduates in the country, and underpaid employees will also be discussed at the MPN meeting next Monday.

“Unemployment among graduates was already an issue even before the pandemic, but maybe it is a more stressful situation now. What we did when I was prime minister was to work on job initiatives through the National Employment Council.

“I expect Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to continue with this effort to generate as many job opportunities as possible. Our previous target was 500,000 jobs,” he said.

He said with the opening of more economic sectors such as tourism and manufacturing, there would soon be more jobs and options available, including for those currently being underpaid.