KUALA LUMPUR: The government must set a definite timeline to reopen Malaysia’s international borders to get the economy back on track.
National Recovery Council (NRC) chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said such a timeline should be given soon, be it a month or two to three months, as the closed borders had created hiccups in the economic recovery efforts.
“There must be a very definite timeline with conditions set so that a timeline can be made and certain countries which we find are controlling the pandemic well should be allowed to come in.
“If we drag this matter further, there will be problems,” said the former prime minister at the Gerakan’s Chinese New Year Celebration, here yesterday.
Muhydidin said the prime minister and his cabinet should take note of the suggestions given by the National Recovery Council (NRC) on the matter.
He was of the opinion that the government should reconsider the council’s earlier suggestion of reopening the borders fully on Jan 1 after it had been pushed back indefinitely following the spike in infections involving the Omicron variant.
Muhydidin said in the last NRC meeting held in January, a special committee comprising the Health Ministry, several other ministers and the NRC was formed to chart the way on when the borders could be fully reopened.
He also said the outcomes would likely be known next month.
“I want to know if the outcome is either to continue closing the borders, which I do not agree with or opening up everything without restrictions (such as tests and quarantines).”
“There are countries that have shown promising outcomes to control it (the pandemic). For instance, we can go to Dubai if we strictly adhered to the said country’s SOP and there are neither tests nor quarantines upon arrival. Still, you must take your tests beforehand. Upon your return (to Malaysia), take the RT-PCR test and quarantine for five days.”
Muhyiddin, who was referring to his recent trip to Dubai, said, he met about 80 investors there. He highlighted that it was difficult for these investors to put their money in a country or a market that they could not physically visit.
On this note, Muhyiddin said the ball is now in the government’s court.
“They need to sit down and reconsider the proposal made for Jan 1. It is now February.”
The NRC was reported to have recommended that international borders should reopen no later than Jan 1. In October the prime minister also said it was possible to reopen the borders in December when 90 per cent of the adult population had been fully vaccinated.
Malaysian borders have remained largely closed since March 2020, when the first national lockdown was imposed. Certain exemptions, however, have been made for students, Malaysians returning home from abroad, permanent residents and businessmen.
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