JOHOR BAHRU: Johor Chief Minister Hasni Mohammad mentioned the state should focus on reducing the variety of COVID-19 cases earlier than discussions on reopening borders with Singapore.
Speaking to CNA in an unique interview on Monday (May 31), Mr Hasni mentioned that each side are in settlement that talks to reopen cross-border journey have been put on maintain given the COVID-19 state of affairs in Malaysia.
“It is because of the number of cases recorded, which has kept on rising as far as Johor is concerned,” he mentioned, including that additional discussions will solely occur when the variety of cases reveals a downward development.
“The ball is in our court now. We just have to make sure that more effort is being put towards reducing the number of cases in Johor. And I believe once the number is reduced to an acceptable level, Singapore will consider our request to reopen the borders again.”
Malaysia started its third nationwide lockdown on Tuesday amid a surging third wave of COVID-19 that has hit report ranges in latest weeks.
During the primary section of this “total lockdown” from Jun 1 to Jun 14, malls are shut whereas only 17 essential service sectors can be allowed to function. These sectors embrace healthcare, telecommunications and media, meals and beverage, utilities in addition to banking.
On Wednesday, Malaysia recorded 7,703 new COVID-19 cases, of which 554 cases have been logged in Johor. There are actually greater than 580,000 cases nationwide.
Mr Hasni added that a method for the Johor state authorities to cut back the variety of cases was to expedite the vaccination of native residents as quickly as attainable.
He mentioned that Johor has at all times contributed considerably to the nationwide financial system and it might be vital for Malaysia that “economic activity in Johor is able to resume to its original level”.
He is concentrating on for 80 per cent of the Johor inhabitants to be vaccinated by October.
Moreover, below the ImmuPlan Johor initiative, the Johor state authorities plans to prioritise 100,000 residents for vaccination. These residents should first qualify as “economic frontliners” who work in Singapore and are eager on resume commuting between Singapore and Johor.
Mr Hasni mentioned that to date, round 70,000 individuals have certified for the initiative and they may probably obtain their vaccinations from July. He added that these financial frontliners can even be given the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which has been authorized by Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA).
READ: Malaysia’s daily COVID-19 cases may hit 13,000 by mid-June if regulations are not followed: Health ministry
COST OF QUARANTINE AN ISSUE FOR THOSE UNDER PCA
During the interview, Mr Hasni additionally touched on points affecting Malaysian employees who’re at present working in Singapore below the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA).
Under this scheme, Malaysian employees in Singapore who maintain long-term immigration passes are allowed to apply for short-term go away after working in Singapore for no less than 90 consecutive days.
However, some have expressed concern about the associated fee of serving quarantine when getting into Singapore.
Last month, Singapore introduced that these with latest journey historical past to increased threat international locations and areas, together with Malaysia, must serve a 21-day stay-home notice at dedicated facilities with impact from May 8.
For these serving their 21-day stay-home discover at devoted amenities in Singapore, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority web site reveals a price of S$3,000 for lodging and meals for a single grownup. This excludes the prices of PCR checks.
Additionally, these commuters are additionally required to serve 14 days of quarantine when getting into Malaysia, the place they could be charged a most of RM150 per day.
Mr Hasni mentioned that he hoped the Singapore authorities might contemplate reducing the prices of quarantine for this group.
“If I may, can I express my request, and hope to the Singapore government … It would help a lot if the cost of quarantine can be reconsidered to be much lower than what it is now,” mentioned Mr Hasni.
He mentioned these Malaysians are primarily based in Singapore as a result of they’re holding on to a job and have obligations with their respective firms in the town state.
“So I believe that it’s not that they can’t pay, but it will help if they can have extra to spend and … protect their (finances),” he added.
JOHOR KEEN ON PROCURING VACCINES FROM SINGAPORE
Additionally, the chief minister mentioned that the state authorities is eager to extend Johor’s vaccine provide by means of numerous channels, together with by procuring them from Singapore.
“I’m happy to inform that we will also be discussing with a few others, including perhaps companies from Singapore, because I was made to understand, from some vaccine suppliers … about their willingness to supply (to us). But they are tied to the understanding they will have to give priority to the country’s requirement first,” mentioned Mr Hasni.
“Once they fulfill this obligation, then only they will be allowed to discuss with other individuals or private parties,” he added.
Mr Hasni additionally famous how the state authorities has collaborated with Temasek Foundation previously to distribute face masks, hand sanitizers and ventilators to assist in the state’s battle towards COVID-19.
Temasek Foundation is a Singapore-based non-profit organisation below the philanthropic arm of the state sovereign fund Temasek Holdings.
He expressed hope that additional collaboration might be accomplished to extend the availability of vaccines in Johor.
“So, maybe from the foundation’s perspective, it is more of charitable work. But I suppose if it is on an understanding that can be developed to manage, control or reduce the number of positive COVID-19 patients, then why not?” mentioned Mr Hasni.
“We will explore all possibilities as far as securing our own vaccines.”