Hakim Hayat & Daniel Lim
With land and sea borders set to re-open on August 1, Bruneians shared their mixed feelings over the easing of non-essential travel as the Sultanate slowly inches back to normal.
Belait resident Chin Lee Yun expressed excitement over the re-opening of land borders after almost three years of closure.
She shared with the Bulletin: “I plan to go (to Miri) to do some shopping, eat some food and visit the clinic for health check-ups.”
Fellow Belait resident Selency Hwong sees the border re-opening as a sign that the country is moving towards some form of normalcy.
Referencing her experience of essential travel in the last couple of years, Hwong expects the process to be less tedious due to more relaxed measures in the Endemic Phase.
“The official re-opening of the borders will definitely facilitate a smoother experience for travellers,” she said. “I’m very happy to see such a move to ease travel for residents of both Brunei and Malaysia.”
Meanwhile, Khairul bin Kamis is overjoyed by the authorities’ decision to re-open the borders as it will allow him to see his relatives in Kuching, Sarawak after over two years of remote communication.
“We will soon be able to meet up with them, face-to-face,” he said.
Khairul’s wife, Syafiqah binti Ibrahim, however, has mixed feelings about the move as there is still lingering fear over the risk of catching COVID-19.
“I am a bit scared of the whole pandemic situation,” she admitted, though she has planned to take on the responsibility to “take care of our health and observe all the standard operating procedures such as social distancing” when they travel to the Malaysian town.
Government servant Ahmad Hisham bin Mustafa, meanwhile, looks forward to taking his family of eight across the border to Miri for a short break.
“I am so happy for the land border re-opening because I prefer to drive to (Miri) as opposed to flying because it is more convenient for my small children to move around, and I feel much safer,” he said.
He also shared that he has already booked a hotel ahead of the re-opening and looks forward to sharing “a seafood feast with my family”.
It is a sentiment shared by Belait resident Suriani binti Ghafor, who used to spend weekends in Miri before the pandemic hit in 2020.
“The exchange rate between the Brunei dollar and Malaysian ringgit is so favourable right now that I can’t wait to do some shopping while I’m over there,” she said. “There are more choices there.”
She added, “I’m definitely driving my own car because it’s more convenient. I can’t wait for the borders to re-open next month.”
Starting August 1, exit and entry via land and sea ports will align with existing air travel guidelines with travellers expected to be fully vaccinated, Brunei’s citizens and permanent residents having travel insurance with COVID-19 treatment coverage prior to exiting the country and a completed arrival declaration before entering the country.