Not the right time for ‘travel bubble’ with Indonesia


By Emma Victoria

THE government and Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin should provide the rationale and reasons for wanting to set up a travel bubble with Indonesia.

Health policy specialist Dr Khor Swee Kheng said that at the moment, Covid-19 cases in both countries were still high; hence, it is not a good timing yet.

“Although I understand that Malaysia and Southeast Asia must reopen our borders at some point, it must be done carefully and thoughtfully, not suddenly,” he said when contacted.

“Any travel bubble must be based in evidence and science,” he said, adding that an explanation by the government would stop the guessing game on its rationale.

Meanwhile John Teo, chairman of the Malaysian Association of Hotels, Sarawak, said the travel bubble initiative was first discussed in July last year, before the surge of Covid-19 cases.

“But now, we are reporting over 3,000 cases each day and the reciprocal green lane (RGL) scheme or travel bubble, is unlikely to happen now,” he said.

However, he added that it was a good proposal to be discussed for future tourism development between the two countries as well as with other countries like Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

“Instead of continuing to worry on this Covid-19 pandemic and do nothing, this initiative will restart the tourism industry in Malaysia,” he said.

“Of course we need to make sure the selected countries are safe to travel while Malaysia is also ready to welcome their citizens to visit our country,” he said.

Last week, Foreign Affairs Ministry secretary general Datuk Seri Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob said Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed in principle to implement the reciprocal green lane (RGL) scheme or known in Indonesia as corridor travel arrangement, to enhance bilateral trade.

However, the SOPs need to be fine-tuned and will only be implemented once Malaysian and Indonesian health authorities deem it appropriate.