Singapore

Cross-border travel with Malaysia kicks in

Factory operator Nurul Hidayah Norezan was among hundreds of Malaysians who made their way across the Causeway to Singapore yesterday as the two countries' cross-border travel arrangements kicked in.

As there is no public transport plying the 1km-long Causeway, Ms Nurul, 28, joined others in making their way on foot in the early hours of the morning.

The journey took more than an hour as they were walking with luggage in tow.

She used to commute daily between Singapore and Johor for her job here but has been away from it since March, when Kuala Lumpur decided to close Malaysia's borders to stem the spread of the coronavirus, catching her and thousands of other Malaysians off-guard.

SEPARATED

Ms Nurul told The Straits Times at the Woodlands Train Checkpoint: "I'm excited to be back to work again, but at the same time, I'm sad that I'll be separated from my one-year-old child."

Hundreds of Malaysians were also leaving Singapore yesterday to go back to their hometowns.

The resumption of cross-border travel between Singapore and Malaysia takes place under two schemes: The reciprocal green lane (RGL) for travellers on shorter visits, and the longer-term periodic commuting arrangement (PCA).

The RGL facilitates short-term travel for essential business or official purposes between both sides for up to 14 days, while the PCA allows Singapore and Malaysia residents who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work in the other country to enter it for work.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, a spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry said the systems for receiving PCA and RGL applications are working well.

"Government agencies will continue to ensure that the reopening of our borders is done in a careful and calibrated manner while balancing economic interests and safeguarding public health."

In Malaysia, Johor Immigration director Baharuddin Tahir said yesterday applications under RGL and PCA are fully booked until Friday.

As of 10am yesterday, about 300 people had crossed the border in both directions, said Johor Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee chairman Mohd Solihan Badri.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING: TOH TING WEI

Employment