Malaysia Won’t Open Border Hastily, Says PM Muhyiddin In Speech About Covid-19 Situation

Many Singaporeans are missing taking day or weekend trips to Johor Bahru to enjoy cheap food and shopping.

Businesses in JB miss us too, as evidenced by the empty malls. The situation has gotten so desperate that Johor’s Chief Minister has met Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to discuss the full reopening of the Singapore-Malaysia border.

However, it seems this will take some time, as Mr Muhyiddin has said that he won’t be hastily opening the Malaysia border, especially since there’s been a recent spike in Covid-19 cases again.

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No rush to open Malaysia’s borders: Muhyiddin

Mr Muhyiddin made a prime ministerial speech on Tuesday (15 Sep) on the Covid-19 situation in Malaysia, which was broadcasted on national TV and on Facebook.

During the speech, he said his government will not rush to open borders.

Citing the fact that some other countries are still struggling to contain the spread of the virus and facing the threat of a 2nd wave, he warned that Malaysia can’t be complacent.

The PM acknowledged that Malaysians have been affected by the strict border controls, but it was necessary to protect them from the pandemic.

Malaysia needed to strike a balance between protecting lives and protecting livelihoods, he added.

In fact, the country will tighten border controls to better prevent the entry of illegal immigrants who may spread Covid-19.

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Covid-19 cases starting to increase again

Adding to his resolve to take his time opening borders is that Covid-19 cases in Malaysia are starting to increase again.

According to Mr Muhyiddin, a total of 615 new cases were recorded over the last 2 weeks.

3 districts have also reported 41 cases or more over the same period — 1 in Kedah state and 2 in Sabah.

This is something that makes him quite concerned, he said.

It doesn’t help either that imported cases have also been coming in — 1,017 of them were recorded between 3 Apr and 15 Sep.

Daily cases hit triple digits

On Friday (11 Sep), 182 new cases were recorded in Malaysia.

That 3-digit figure is the highest since 4 Jun, which saw 277 cases emerge.

Mr Muhyiddin alluded to that in his speech, saying,

Daily Covid-19 cases have been rising in the single, double and sometimes triple digits without receding to zero.

This situation shows that Malaysia hasn’t succeeded in completely getting rid of the virus, as the chain of transmission hasn’t been totally broken, he added.

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New clusters continue to surface

On Tuesday (15 Sep), a 3rd cluster was found in Sabah, adding to the 2 already found in Tawau and Lahad Datu districts.

Thus, Mr Muhyiddin specifically asked residents of the East Malaysia state to exercise caution.

Calling the increase in cases in Sabah “significant”, he reminded Sabahans to be disciplined and follow the measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

This is especially since the state is holding elections soon, and all campaign activities must be conducted according to safe distancing rules set by the Health Ministry.

MCO may be reimposed if cases rise

Mr Muhyiddin also said something that most Malaysians will probably dread: The Movement Control Order (MCO) might come back.

This will happen if the number of cases rises dramatically, he said.

During the MCO, the strict lockdown that Malaysia went through in the early phase of the pandemic, ended on 10 Jun. Malaysians had to stay at home and couldn’t go anywhere except for essential purposes.

It’s already being enforced in the Kedah cluster, he added, and it’s bad for people’s lives and the economy.

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The country is now in the “recovery MCO”, which is set to last till the end of the year.

Under the RMCO, borders still aren’t open except for those who qualify under the Reciprocal Green Lane or Periodic Commuting Arrangement.

No short trips to JB any time soon

Until the cases in Malaysia subside significantly, it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll be able to resume our short trips to JB anytime soon.

The soonest we can hope for is maybe next year — a whole 3.5 months away.

For their sake and ours, let’s hope Malaysia gets their Covid-19 situation under control soon. We in Singapore should also do our part and prevent any rise in cases, so other countries will be comfortable enough to let us in.

Featured image adapted from Facebook.