JAKARTA: Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan said on Friday (Mar 26) that before travel arrangements can resume, Singapore and Indonesia should preferably have the “same degree of control” over COVID-19 transmissions.
Dr. Balakrishnan said in an interview to wrap up his visit to Jakarta that resuming travel should be done gradually, safely, and cautiously.
“I would like to reiterate the point that we need the COVID-19 situation to improve significantly. Ideally for them to achieve the same level of control as we have currently in Singapore, which means every day we have between zero and one community case locally,” said Dr Balakrishnan.
He claimed that travel during the pandemic would not be the same as it was prior to COVID-19 until the situation normalizes and equalizes across all destinations.
In order to facilitate cross-border travel, the minister emphasized the importance of testing, vaccination, and the willingness to exchange verifiable and authoritative records.
“So, this will take some time, and that’s why I completely agree with Mdm Retno (Marsudi)’s point. Let’s do it gradually, carefully and cautiously. That’s the way to do it.
“The last thing you want is to run before you are ready. And then you get a big cluster … So have some patience, but rest assured we are working on this.”
Sandiaga Uno, Indonesia’s tourism and creative economy minister, said last weekend that he hoped to open a “secure travel corridor” on April 21 between Singapore, Batam Nongsa, and Bintan Lagoi.
Indonesia registered 4,982 new cases on Friday. In Indonesia, there are nearly 1.5 million confirmed cases.
On Friday, Singapore announced 12 new COVID-19 infections. In the city-state, there are over 60,000 confirmed cases.
Dr. Balakrishnan is in Jakarta for two days of work.
On Thursday, he met with his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, to discuss the Leaders’ Retreat’s preparations. Both also expressed support for an ASEAN summit on Myanmar.
At the end of the day, he said, Myanmar requires national reconciliation, and all parties must sit down for a candid, free, and meaningful dialogue.
Dr Balakrishnan said there is a need to fulfill the aspirations of Myanmar’s young people. “We have to find ways to give them security, the peace, the stability and the opportunities that they so richly deserve,” he said. This kind of upheaval could set them back a century.’ Let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best.” On Friday evening, Dr. Balakrishnan will return to Singapore.