KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 — Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the country’s borders would only be reopened after discussion with the Health Ministry, Tourism, Arts, and Culture Ministry as well as the Immigration Department.
He said the results of the discussion between the three parties would then be refined by the quartet meeting before being brought to the Cabinet or the Special Committee to Address COVID-19 chaired by the prime minister.
However, he said the two ministries and the Immigration Department had been instructed to make preparations for the reopening of the country’s borders.
“The reopening of the country’s borders is a big decision, especially involving countries with bilateral relations that are still closing their borders to Malaysians,” he told a press conference after the COVID-19 Quartet Ministers Meeting at Wisma Pertahanan.
Hishammuddin was commenting on National Recovery Council chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s suggestion that the country’s borders be fully opened as early as March 1 without the need for mandatory quarantine.
Muhyiddin said the reopening of the borders, which was one of the recommendations made at the MPN meeting 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.
On whether the country’s borders could be reopened according to the date recommended by the MPN, Hishammuddin said it depended on discussion with the two ministries and the Immigration Department.
“The date (March 1) is just a recommendation, and whatever recommendations and suggestions from the MPN will be brought to the Cabinet to get a final decision,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hishammuddin said the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) was ready to once again play an important role in addressing COVID-19 with the reactivation of the National COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Force (RRTF).
He said the re-establishment of RRTF was timely as the country was facing an increase in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant.
“MAF is ready to set up field hospitals at any location nationwide if needed. It will only take a week for us to set up this field hospital, but for now, it is not necessary because hospitals are not overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients,” he said.