Chong urges Sarawak govt to prepare ahead for proposed reopening of Malaysia’s borders on March 1

Chong attending the NRC meeting.

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KUCHING, Feb 8: The Sarawak government has been urged to quickly prepare a coordinated approach including standardised standard operating procedures (SOP) ahead of the proposed re-opening of the Malaysian border by March 1.

Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen made this call after attending the National Recovery Council (NRC) meeting in Putrajaya today which has resolved, among other things, to open up the country’s economy by March 1 whereby foreigners will be allowed to enter upon testing negative of Covid-19 and by-pass quarantine.

He said that the resolution of the meeting will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval.

“Now that Singapore, Thailand, England, Australia and many other countries are gradually opening up their borders and removing the need for quarantine upon entry into their countries, Malaysia cannot afford to continue imposing quarantine on foreigners.

“Therefore, it is most likely that the Cabinet will endorse the recommendation of the NRC,” he added in a statement today.

The meeting was chaired by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and attended by Finance Minister Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Works Minister Dato Sri Fadillah Yusof, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and other members of the Council.

“They have also shown their support in today’s meeting on the proposal,” Chong said.

With March 1 only three weeks away, the Stampin MP emphasised that the Sarawak government must make preparations now to draw up necessary SOP for the opening of the borders and welcome back foreign tourist arrivals.

“(This is) so that when Peninsular Malaysia removes the quarantine SOP for foreign tourists, the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) will not be in disarray and slow to follow suit,” he said.

The domestic economy, he pointed out, has suffered tremendously over the past two years of the Covid-19 pandemic where the number of tourists was literally reduced to zero.

“Not only the tourism industry suffered but many other sectors of the economy also suffered. The people’s predicaments were made worse with the confusing SOPs imposed by the SDMC which at times differed from the Ministry of Health (MOH).

“Therefore, I urge the State government to quickly make preparations for the opening of borders, standardise the SOPs and communicate with the private sectors to get them ready for the recovery plan,” he reiterated. — DayakDaily