New Brunswick Tribune

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Reunions are joyful when the Malaysia-Singapore land border reopens

Key takeaways:

  • On Monday, Malaysians working in Singapore celebrated happy reunions with their families.
  • After the border closed in March 2020, more than 100,000 Malaysians were estimated to be trapped on the island.

Malaysians working in Singapore celebrated joyful reunions with their loved ones on Monday, following the partial reopening of the land border blocked for nearly two years due to the pandemic.

Strong security safeguards, including pre-departure and on-arrival COVID-19 tests, were in place as buses brought fully vaccinated passengers across the Causeway Bridge, connecting Singapore’s island and the Malaysian peninsula.

A COVID-19 case was detected during screening in Johor state’s southern region, according to Malaysian Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who did not clarify. 

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“There will be positive cases at entry points when we safely reopen our borders. Risk assessment, seclusion, and close contact monitoring will become commonplace, “he stated.

Only 1,440 people per day from each side are allowed in the initial phase, and they must be citizens, permanent residents, or long-term pass holders. Before the epidemic, the Causeway was one of the busiest land borders in the world. 

Air travel between the two countries was also resumed Monday with minimal restrictions, allowing anyone fully vaccinated to travel between the two countries quarantine-free.

“I haven’t seen her in over a year, and when I see her today, I’m pleased, I’m really glad,” Siva Ganesan, a retiree, said after greeting his wife, Uma Devi Balakrishnan, at the bus terminal in Johor state’s southern region. His wife is a cleaner in Singapore who became stuck when the border was closed.

Joyful reunions as Malaysia-Singapore land border reopens

A Malaysian guy kissed and caressed his baby, whom he had never met before, while another woman sobbed in her father’s arms. After the border closed in March 2020, more than 100,000 Malaysians were estimated to be trapped on the island.

“It’s odd; it doesn’t feel real because it’s been a long time since I’ve been home,” Malaysian Cheong Weng Yin said. “Until I stepped foot here, I was quite nervous.”

Chua Pei Sze and her two daughters, ages 10 and 7, were first in line for the first bus to Malaysia. “Finally, we’ll be able to bring my girls to see their grandmother in person… video chats aren’t enough,” said the 43-year-old shipping executive.

Kavin Raj, 24, said he’d surprise his family because they had no idea he’d gotten a ticket on the first bus. “First and foremost, I would say that I will have a fantastic supper in Malaysia,” he exclaimed.

Before it was closed, more than 350,000 people a day crossed the Causeway, largely Malaysians working in Singapore because of the favorable exchange rate.

The two countries have stated that the restrictions on land border crossings will be gradually eased to allow general travelers and types of transportation other than buses to cross. 

A second land link is likely to be restored soon. In Singapore, 85 percent of the population has been vaccinated, and in Malaysia, roughly 80 percent has been vaccinated.

Source: Global News

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