In case you’re unaware, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob arrived in Singapore today (29 Nov) to witness the launch of the Land VTL between Singapore and Malaysia. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong welcomed him at Woodlands Checkpoint and of course, they had a press conference together.
Although the press conference was only about 15 minutes long, many important things were touched on in that 15 minutes.
So here are 10 things to know about the press conference between PM Lee and Malaysia’s PM Ismail.
Stabilised COVID-19 Situation in Malaysia and Singapore
Despite the new variant popping up, the COVID-19 situation in Malaysia and Singapore is actually stabilised. That explains the land VTL, air VTL and further discussion of the expansions of these VTLs recently.
This is due to both country’s high vaccination rates: about 77.7% of Malaysia’s population are fully vaccinated and 85% of Singapore’s population are fully vaccinated.
More Borders to Be Opened Between Singapore and Malaysia
Today (29 Nov) marks the first day of the land VTL, eventually, more borders will be opened between Singapore and Malaysia.
Although the launch only allows “modest numbers” to cross the borders (as of now), the goal is to have more borders open between Singapore and Malaysia.
As PM Lee said, “it will take us some time before we get anywhere near to pre-COVID levels. But we will progress step by step, and get it working first.”
So to do that, patience is needed for some time is required for further progress.
General Travellers will be able to travel to Malaysia from Mid-Dec
From mid-Dec, general travellers will be able to travel through the land VTL scheme. That means you are able to hop on a bus and get your cheap seafood.
By “general travellers”, they meant those that are not long-term pass holders AKA tourists.
However, this is all dependent on the public health situation.
By the way, just so you know, it’ll mid-Dec in two week’s time.
Additional Bus Services Through Tuas
With the land VTL expanding, that means more buses are required. When the time comes, there will be additional bus services through the second link at Tuas.
They will also include gradually include trains and personal vehicles such as motorcycles and cars as well.
Air VTL Expansion
Aside from the land VTL, the air VTL between Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) was also launched today. The first flight brought 240 passengers from Singapore to KLIA at 9.25am.
The air VTL will ultimately be expanded to the other airports in Malaysia as well, namely, Penang, Kuching, Langkawi, and Kota Kinabalu.
They are also in discussion to resume the port calls between the Malaysian and Singapore ports, specifically the Tanah Merah terminal and Desaru in Johor.
This will all be according to the safe cruise standards that are currently in discussion.
As of this writing, there is no official date set yet. As per the expansion of the land VTL and air VTL, all of this is dependent on the COVID-19 situation then.
JB-Singapore RTS Link to commence by end-2026
Here’s another good news that’s unrelated to the Land VTL: the Johor Bahru and Singapore Rapid Transit System Link Project, which will take commuters around five minutes to go from Malaysia to Singapore, is currently under construction.
It is projected to commence in five years time, around the end of 2026.
KL-Singapore High Speed Rail Possible Revival
The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project that was terminated for both countries failed to reach an agreement by 31 Dec 2020 may be revived once again.
PM Ismail suggests reviving the discussions on the project to which PM Lee is open for discussion.
“Singapore looks forward to receiving more details from Malaysia, so that we can study them and consider the matter again.”
Resumption of Annual Leaders’ Retreat
During COVID-19, the annual leaders’ retreat was cancelled. However, since things are stabilized, they have decided to resume the annual leaders’ retreat in the first quarter of next year.
During the retreat, the leaders can also explore future possible collaborations and build on the issues that were discussed.
Singapore’s Continual Support of Iskandar Malaysia
Singapore also continues to support the development of the Iskandar Malaysia economic development corridor.
The 14th Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia will also be convening in Dec.
TL;DR Good things like more land VTL, air VTL and sea VTL are to come but everything will only occur when the situation allows.
In other words, if the new variant does not join the party in Singapore or Malaysia.
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Featured Image: Youtube (The Straits Times)