TANGKAK (CNA) – Malaysia’s Cabinet has yet to discuss the National Recovery Council’s (MPN) proposal to re-open the country’s borders by March 1, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Friday.
Ismail Sabri added that Malaysia’s Health Ministry had yet to provide feedback on the proposal to the Cabinet for evaluation.
On Tuesday, MPN Chairman Muhyiddin Yassin said that the council had agreed to a full opening of Malaysia’s borders from as early as March 1 without the need for mandatory quarantine.
“We must find a balance between wanting to protect the tourism industry and the people’s health, so the Health Ministry will look into it in detail and propose to the Cabinet on the next step,” said the prime minister, who is also the UMNO vice-president.
“As of today, our borders are still closed… there’s no discussion yet to re-open,” he told reporters at an event.
Ismail Sabri said the government had thus far only re-opened the Malaysia-Singapore border in Johor via a vaccinated travel lane. He added that the government is aware of the woes faced by the tourism industry – which has been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – but does not want the entry of foreign tourists to cause a spike in cases in the country.
“I have friends (from my time serving as a minister) in the Tourism Ministry… friends who said they cannot survive, tour drivers who depend on income gained from ferrying travellers.
Now, there are none (tourists), they cannot survive.
“Perhaps we can see now that the government is still providing assistance (in terms of) wage subsidy to workers but we do not pay much, only MYR600. This is meant to help but we do not know how much longer they can survive.
“That’s why we may eventually re-open the borders but, to do that, we have to get the advice from the Health Ministry. Yes, it’s true we want to re-open the borders because we want to assist the tourism industry, but we also want to protect the health of Malaysians.
“If the travellers who come here are infected, then it will only expedite the increase in the number of cases and endanger our people’s health,” said Ismail Sabri.