Although recently Singapore could celebrate reaching the top spot in Bloomberg’s Covil Resilience ranking as the best and safest place in the world during the pandemic, the problems of the interconnected city-state globally are far from over, as it depends not only on itself, but also on how well it does everyone.
However, the recent rise in locally transmitted cases has prompted government caution, which imposed some restrictions, especially on outdoor dining and the operation of gym facilities. Regardless, the situation in Singapore remains very good, with about 20 to 30 cases of local transmission a day.
Malaysia, meanwhile, is setting new records with more than 6,000 cases registered on Wednesday (May 19), with reports from lack of beds in local hospitals, especially in the intensive care units (ICU) of the Klang Valley.
Although the city-state has links with virtually everyone, it is more closely related to the neighboring country, Malaysia.
About 400,000 people he crossed the border between the two countries daily, traveling from Johor to work in Singapore before the pandemic. Since the crossings remain effectively closed, thousands of Malaysians are trapped in Singapore and away from their families, or trapped in Malaysia and unable to return to work in the city-state.
This has already posed significant challenges for Singapore companies, for which Malaysians are the largest group of workers, especially in lower-paying jobs (which are often quite large). We are talking about workers skilled in renovation, cleaning staff, kitchen or retail.
As Singapore has largely reopened its economy, thanks to effective preventive measures that controlled the local spread of the virus, pressure on a return to cross-border normalcy is growing, as the economy depends on hundreds of thousands of workers. foreigners.
Returning to normal is impossible without vaccines
As long as there are rules of distancing, it will be difficult to return to normal work. The only way to beat the disease is through mass vaccines.
Unfortunately, the vaccination campaign in Malaysia is far behind Singapore. Although the city-state – one of the leaders in Asia – has managed to completely vaccinate about 25% of its population in Malaysia, this figure is only three percent.
Johor State aims to inoculate at least 100,000 Malaysians to take up jobs in Singapore in June, but at current vaccination rates, that target may not be achievable. After all, both doses require an interval of at least three to four weeks.
As a result, Singapore companies could be severely affected by border delays for many months.
In the first quarter of 2021, Singapore recorded very modest positive GDP growth of only 0.2 percent, although the Singapore Monetary Authority is confident it can achieve a result that exceeds expectations by more than six per cent year-round.
This projection, however, is based on the anticipation of a global rise from the second quarter.
For Singapore, it means its biggest neighbor should follow suit, or its problems could stifle Singapore’s ability to make the most of the improving global situation.
Let’s not forget that, in addition to the dependence on the Malaysian workforce, trade and leisure travel between the two countries was also very high, with the air route between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore being the busiest in the world in terms of to the number of air operations.
While Malaysia cannot catch up, it will also have negative effects in Singapore.
Given the city-state interconnection and dependence on interactions with the outside world, through trade and labor, its post-Covid reactivation will largely depend on how other people do it. , and the most important element of this process is Malaysia.
Featured Image Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs