Reciprocal green lane to help revive economy

Sin Chew Daily

After closing the border for almost five months, Singapore and Malaysia agree on the reopening of the border to eligible travelers starting August 10 by implementing Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and Periodic Commuting Agreement (PCA).

The RGL scheme allows Malaysians and Singaporeans to travel to and from the two countries, but this is restricted to official travel and important business matters on short-term basis.

Meanwhile, the PCA scheme allows Malaysians and Singaporeans with long-term work permits and businessmen to cross the border for work. After at least three consecutive months, they will be allowed to return to their home country for short-term home leave and re-enter their country of work to continue working.

Travelers are required to abide by the preventive measures and public health measures mutually agreed upon by both countries for safety reasons.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, Malaysia and Singapore have implemented the movement control order (MCO) and circuit breaker respectively while the Malaysia-Singapore border has remained closed since March.

Malaysia and Singapore are socially and economically interconnected especially Johor which is Singapore's important strategic partner. 

Businesses and daily routine of Singaporeans and Malaysians have been affected by the lockdown.

Many Malaysian workers have been stranded in Singapore. They have to rent rooms in Singapore while also paying for their housing mortgages back in Malaysia. Some Malaysians have been unable to return to work in Singapore, putting them in a state of semi-unemployed.

Many are relieved with the reopening of the Malaysia-Singapore border. They get to keep their jobs in Singapore and the reopening benefits the economic development in both countries. Unemployment rate will not spike, too.

Singaporean consumers have always contributed significantly to the robust business activities in Johor Bahru. Many have suffered sharp decline in business volumes because of the lockdown. The reopening of border will help revive business of all sectors in JB. Shopping malls, restaurants and the retail sector are ready to welcome more Singaporean patrons.

For Singaporeans who own properties in Johor, the reopening is great news as it will help boost Singaporean investors' confidence with resumption of business operations.

However, the good news comes with a small condition that Malaysians working in Singapore are only allowed to return home for short stays after three months. Many see the condition as unnecessary. They opine that the government should give them the added flexibility of commuting daily. The new condition may be implemented as a preventive measure to fend off COVID-19, but many feel the strict implementation and compliance of the standard operating measure would be good enough to achieve the purpose of prevention. To Malaysians working in Singapore, a short stay at home after working three months in Singapore does not make a lot of difference.

The condition may have been introduced as there are considerations made for the reopening of the Malaysia-Singapore border where the COVID-19 situation in both countries is still not stable. Both countries have made an important step to reopen the border. It is believed that after implementing the schemes for some days, the two countries will make arrangements for citizens of both countries to enjoy greater travel flexibility.



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