SINGAPORE: Since March final yr, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has helped greater than 250 Singapore residents enter Malaysia resulting from important and compassionate causes.
But the vast majority of appeals have been unsuccessful, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan stated in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 2).
He was responding to a query from MP Sylvia Lim (WP-Aljunied) on how the Government is working with Malaysian authorities to assist Singapore residents and everlasting residents (PRs) enter Malaysia for causes equivalent to household bereavement.
Borders between the 2 nations have been closed since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
READ: Singapore to suspend reciprocal green lane arrangements with Malaysia, Germany and South Korea for 3 months
Ms Lim stated in a supplementary query that a few of her residents’ appeals to cross the Causeway have been in useless regardless of help from MFA, as there was no response from the Malaysian authorities.
She requested if MFA may take a extra goal strategy in deciding on who can go to Malaysia so it’s not a “hit and miss” state of affairs.
In response, Dr Balakrishnan stated the ultimate resolution lies with the Malaysian authorities.
“I am not in a position to say on what basis he (Malaysia’s director-general of immigration) agreed to some of our requests and disagreed with many of the other requests,” he stated.
In every case, MFA will inform the Singaporean or PR to get approval from Malaysia’s director-general of immigration. At the identical time, she or he can maintain MFA knowledgeable in order that the ministry can attain out informally to the Malaysian High Commission, Dr Balakrishnan stated.
“But the legal and diplomatic position is that the ultimate discretion … rests with the director-general of immigration of Malaysia,” he stated.
However, he stated Singapore has reached an in-principle settlement with Malaysia to permit journey in circumstances equivalent to household bereavements. “The exact details are still being worked out,” Dr Balakrishnan stated with out elaborating.
Ms Lim additionally requested in a second supplementary query how MFA plans to deal with bilateral points given the “dynamic political situation” and state of emergency in Malaysia.
Dr Balakrishnan stated that regardless of Malaysia’s change of presidency final yr, the 2 nations nonetheless have good relations.
There have been occasions he personally reached out to his counterpart, Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, to assist Singaporeans who have been caught in a “particularly delicate situation” and Mr Hishammuddin obliged, Dr Balakrishnan stated.
He additionally stated MFA helped repatriate greater than 350 Singaporeans – largely the aged, very younger or folks with mobility points – stranded in Malaysia since March final yr.