Photo credit: MUHAMMAD IQBAL

Singapore and Malaysia to begin cross-border travel for emergency visits

The scheme is set to kick off on May 17.

Jeevana Kalaithasan

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Published: 3 May 2021, 12:57 PM

A cross-border travel scheme between Singapore and Malaysia is to be implemented on May 17 for compassionate reasons. 

This announcement was made by Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, together with Malaysia’s Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who was on a two-day official visit to Singapore. 

Mr Hishammuddin said that the compassionate grounds refers to situations when people on either side request to cross the border to be with family members who are critically ill or to attend funerals.

“When family crisis occurs, people want to get together, and therefore, bearing in mind this very special close relationship between the people of Singapore and the people of Malaysia, it is necessary to have schemes like this,” said Dr Balakrishnan, who added that further details on the types of tests and quarantine arrangements will be announced.


Dr Balakrishnan (right) said that this is a necessary move because of the “extensive ties” that the two countries share. PHOTO CREDIT: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS SINGAPORE


The procedures and entry requirements will be released by the respective authorities of each country, namely the Department of Immigration of Malaysia and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority Singapore (ICA). 

Additionally, the two leaders also discussed a potential air travel bubble between the two countries, although further negotiations with both the transport ministries will still be necessary. 

Travelling on compassionate grounds is the latest move in a series of agreements made between the two countries to cope with COVID-19. Other moves include efforts to progressively restore cross-border travel for other groups of travellers, Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) and the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL), which had been suspended since February. 

Dr Balakrishnan mentioned that Singapore and Malaysia never completely closed off their borders as essential supply chains carrying medication, food and other supplies were still allowed. 


Both governments are also working on the mutual recognition of health certificates, with respect to vaccination and COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test records. PHOTO CREDIT: MAT NAPO VIA UNSPLASH


Mr Hishammuddin also noted that both sides discussed the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates digitally through the respective countries’ COVID-19 applications – TraceTogether and MySejahtera.

In the joint statement, the ministers said they welcomed the agreement reached by the Singapore Smart Nation and Digital Government Office and the Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation “on the mutual technical verification of health certificates issued in Singapore and Malaysia”.

They also agreed that Singapore and Malaysia would continue to make progress on their respective national vaccination programmes to vaccinate long-term residents, including Malaysians residing in Singapore and Singaporeans residing in Malaysia.

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