Flow of goods and food supplies between S’pore and Malaysia will continue despite lockdown over coronavirus: PM Lee

SINGAPORE – The flow of goods and cargo between Singapore and Malaysia, including food supplies, will continue, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (March 17).

In a Facebook post, PM Lee said he received this reassurance from Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin when they discussed the situation on Tuesday.

“I told him that I understood the reasons why he had made this move, and wished Malaysia success in containing the outbreak. I was happy to hear his reassurance that the flow of goods and cargo between Singapore and Malaysia, including food supplies, would continue,” he said.

Malaysia had announced on Monday night that it would impose a lockdown of its borders to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

This movement control order bars Malaysians from travelling overseas from Wednesday (March 18) to March 31. This includes Malaysians who travel to Singapore on a near daily basis for work or study, said Malaysia’s immigration chief. 

Tourists will not be allowed to enter Malaysia during the two -week period, while Malaysians returning from abroad will have to undergo a health examination and self-quarantine for 14 days.

PM Lee said that Malaysia’s announcement was not surprising, as many other countries have already imposed similar lockdowns.

He noted that Malaysians living in Johor but working in Singapore will have to comply with the Malaysian lockdown.

“This will prevent them from commuting daily, at least for the time being. We are therefore working out arrangements with our companies to help these Malaysian workers stay in Singapore temporarily, if they would like to do so,” he said.

He also said that he and the Malaysian PM have also agreed to appoint senior ministers on both sides – Mr Teo Chee Hean and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob – to coordinate their responses to the Covid-19 outbreak, particularly on measures where they can work together, or where the actions of one country will affect the other.

“They are already in touch, but it may take a couple of days for arrangements to be worked out and to settle down,” he said.

PM Lee added he was happy to see that while queues in the supermarkets are longer than usual, people are taking it in their stride and only buying what they need.

“We need not worry as we have prepared for such an eventuality and have plans in place to cope. Glad that Singaporeans are calm, united and resilient as we solve the problems at hand.”

In a Facebook post, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean said he called Mr Ismail Sabri to congratulate him on his appointments in the Malaysian Cabinet, and “to discuss how we can coordinate our arrangements to contain the outbreak while minimising disruptions to our companies, workers and citizens”.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said he held a series of discussions with Malaysian Senior Minister and Minister of International Trade and Industry Azmin Ali, his Malaysian counterpart Hishammuddin Hussein and Johor Menteri Besar Hasni Mohammad on the lockdown.

“Malaysia has taken these extraordinary measures to prevent the Covid-19 epidemic from getting out of hand. We understand their need to do so,” said Dr Balakrishnan in a Facebook post.

“We have agreed to work out the operational details together so that goods, cargo, and food supplies continue to flow between our countries.”

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