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Decision on reopening borders only after transition to endemic phase, says home minister

Hamzah Zainudin says Malaysia's readiness to transition to the endemic phase will be determined by the health ministry.

2 minute read
Malaysia's borders have been closed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic early last year.
Malaysia's borders have been closed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic early last year.

The opening of the country’s borders to foreign tourists will only be determined after Malaysia moves into the endemic phase of Covid-19, Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin said today.

He said the country is still in the pandemic phase and that its readiness to transition to the endemic phase would be determined by the health ministry.

“Once we are ready, the health ministry will announce it. Actually, the immigration department (the enforcement agency that controls the country’s entry and exit points) is ready, the General Operations Force (GOF) is also ready (and) we too are ready to re-open our borders,” he said after an event in Bukit Kayu Hitam today.

He also said that permission to cross the country’s borders by Malaysians or foreigners would be subject to SOPs to be determined later.

Commenting on the alleged leakage of information from the myIDENTITY personal database, Hamzah said only government agencies are allowed to use the information.

“I have been informed that we only give access to government agencies, we do not give access to the private sector. So, that (allegations that information is being channelled to the private sector) is merely an assumption,” he said.

On the dissolution of Aksem and the handing over of its functions to the GOF, which is under the police, Hamzah said it would make relaying the “command and control” from the top brass relating to operations and control at the country’s borders simpler and more structured.

“We will ensure that our tasks are focused on the problems faced at the borders. We will combine all the assignments so that tasks which were previously under Aksem will be given priority by the GOF,” he said.

He also said that all Aksem assets would be taken over and managed by the GOF, while all 909 Aksem officers and personnel would be returned to their respective agencies.

On March 12, the Cabinet had agreed with the proposed rationalisation of Aksem through a restructuring exercise for it to be placed under the police, with the Aksem Act 2017 (Act 799) to be repealed after the restructuring process is implemented.

Aksem, which was established on Dec 29, 2017, involves five agencies: the police, immigration department, customs department, tNational Anti-Drugs Agency and National Kenaf and Tobacco Board.