Green lane works only post-pandemic

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

KUCHING: The implementation of reciprocal green lane (RGL) scheme or corridor travel arrangement would be effective only when the pandemic in Malaysia and Indonesia is in check.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the scheme is a good approach to intensify good relations and trade including tourism between the countries.

“However, this could only be effective and workable if both countries are able to address the pandemic in their respective countries.

“[There is] no point to open up a green lane only for it to be used to ‘export’ the virus. I am happy that Malaysia and Indonesia are working out this green lane but I fully believe that both countries will only see it workable as and when they have managed to control the spread of the disease,” he told New Sarawak Tribune when contacted on Sunday (Feb 7).

When asked whether the RGL would still be relevant once the Covid-19 pandemic ends, Karim corrected that the pandemic itself will never be totally eradicated.

“We will have to live with it in the new norm. Building up people’s confidence to start traveling again and move from place to place will take time and the RGL is definitely one good effort to build up that confidence,” he added.

The RGL was agreed to in principle by both countries during the four-eye meeting between Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in Indonesia last Friday (Feb 5).

Federal Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said the RGL was one of the recovery plans formulated last July as an effort to rejuvenate the tourism sector.

“The ministry has held discussions with the Health Ministry, Home Ministry and Foreign Affairs Ministry to explore opportunities by creating travel bubbles with neighbouring countries such as Brunei, Singapore and Thailand or Asean countries and Asia Pacific countries such as Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand which have been identified as safe by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“Its implementation, however, is subject to bilateral discussions and considerations based on the aspects of health, immigration, data tracking and ongoing monitoring by relevant agencies in both countries,” she said in a statement on Saturday (Feb 6).