(Image source: CNA)
“Malaysia’s National Recovery Council (NRC) has agreed to fully open the country’s borders by March to support the country’s economic recovery.” reported CNA.
On Tuesday (February 8), NRC chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin delivered the long-awaited news that Malaysian and international students have been anticipating: There is a high possibility for the nation to reopen its border to all countries by March - without mandatory quarantine.
What we know so far about Malaysia’s border reopening
COVID-19 has been around for almost 2 years by now.
Lives were lost. The economy was crippled. Studying abroad seemed like an impossible dream.
However, a sliver of hope emerges once again after the news of our border reopening broke out.
The question is: Why are we planning to reopen the border so soon to all countries when the omicron variant is currently at large?
“The Minister of Health said the Omicron variant is present all over the world and in the community, so we can’t choose (to open borders to selected countries),” said Tan Sri, who was appointed head of NRC after he stepped down from his position as the Prime Minister last August.
The decision was made for the sake of the nation’s economic recovery that was heavily impacted by the movement control order (MCO). The Edge Markets reported Malaysia’s decline of 5.6% in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, which was the biggest drop since 1988 (7.4%).
Given the fact that the tourism sector plays a central role in Malaysia’s economy, reopening the borders makes a lot more sense.
With more international tourists coming, the number of investors will gradually increase, thus contributing to the recovery of Malaysia’s dwindling economy.
How does this benefit universities and students?
Before NRC’s recommendation to reopen the border, foreigners were only allowed entry on a case-to-case basis, such as official business and emergencies.
They were required to comply with 7 to 10 days of mandatory quarantine while bearing the cost themselves.
If the mandatory quarantine is indeed abolished, foreigners including international students will only need to undergo COVID-19 tests before and after their arrival.
This means Malaysian students can finally study abroad and international students can now study in Malaysia without having to bear the quarantine cost (starting from RM150, depending on the chosen designated hotel).
According to New Straits Time, international students in Malaysia contribute up to RM5.9 billion a year to the economy. Higher education institutions will see an improvement in the number of students, hence improving the nation’s income opportunities as well.
What’s the final verdict?
The proposed plan will need further discussions by the Cabinet and relevant authorities before it is finalised.
“This is a big decision, to reopen our borders. More so if countries that have a bilateral relationship with us don’t reciprocate and open up to our citizens.
This has to be discussed at the Cabinet level or the COVID-19 Pandemic Management Special Committee chaired by the prime minister,” said Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein after a COVID-19 quarter ministerial meeting involving the ministers of health, finance, and communications and multimedia.
He had also directed the parties involved to consider the possibility of reopening Malaysia’s border by the timeline suggested by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, adding that the decision needs to be made according to the current situation.
Stay tuned for more updates.
Meanwhile, you can start planning for your higher education if you haven’t already! Check out these guides to help you begin: