PUTRAJAYA, Feb 8 — The National Recovery Council (MPN) today suggested to the government to fully reopen the country’s international borders as early as March 1 without the mandatory quarantine requirement.
Its chairman, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, said the reopening of the borders, which was one of the recommendations made at the MPN meeting here today, was vital to support the country’s recovery process, especially in the economic and tourism sectors, and also to attract foreign investments to Malaysia.
“However, the reopening of the country’s international borders should be done properly based on the risk assessment during the spread of COVID-19 in the country,” he told a press conference after the meeting.
Muhyiddin said the COVID-19 swab test should still be required before departure and upon arrival in accordance with the Ministry of Health (MOH) recommendations.
He said the MOH would announce the standard operating procedures (SOPs) on the matter soon.
Muhyiddin said the proposed reopening of the country’s borders should not be limited to certain countries but instead be open to all.
“In the briefing earlier, Health Minister (Khairy Jamaluddin) said the Omicron variant has been detected all over the world, so we cannot choose the country,” he said.
He said the recommendation could be implemented as the country’s public health management system would be able to control the spread of Omicron variants based on experience apart from having adequate health facilities.
Muhyiddin said the MPN also recommended for the government to make adjustments on all types of financial assistance in the form of grants and loans for micro, small and medium enterprises provided by government financing agencies and the national banking system, so that it will be more systematic.
“It is to increase optimal use of resources as well as targeted and based on needs so that there is no duplication, and more affected entrepreneurs can receive assistance,” he said.
He said the MPN also took note of the country’s construction industry, currently facing issues of rising building material prices, shortage of foreign workers and was also affected by the Movement Control Order (MCO) and noted that the industry was important to stimulate the country’s economic growth.
In this regard, he said the MPN supported the proposal of the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) on immediate and long-term solutions related to the construction industry.
In another development, when asked about the Johor state election, the former prime minister was of the view that it should be relaxed to ensure a more transparent democratic system.
“Those involved in the state polls have the opportunity to campaign, but with limitations,” said Muhyiddin, who is also the chairman of the Perikatan Nasional and president of Bersatu.
Yesterday, Khairy was reported to have said that the Johor polls could proceed as planned, as the Omicron variant infection has proved to be less severe compared with the Delta variant.
Khairy also said the recommendations for the Johor polls standard operating procedures (SOPs) had been finalised and submitted to the National Security Council and the Election Commission before being announced soon.
Muhyiddin also announced the appointment of Tan Sri Dr Sulaiman Mahbob as the chief executive officer of the MPN effective Feb 1, who will be responsible for leading the team in formulating the direction and strategy of the National Recovery Plan 2.0.