JAKARTA: The leaders of Indonesia and Malaysia said they have agreed to start a travel corridor arrangement (TCA) between the two countries with the details to be firmed up later.
In a press conference after his meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Wednesday (Nov 10), President Joko Widodo said the opening up of a travel corridor between Malaysia and Indonesia could facilitate the post-pandemic economic recovery in the two countries.
“Regarding the post-pandemic economic recovery, I welcome the 49 per cent increase in trade during January to August 2021 compared to the same period last year,” said Mr Widodo.
“And to support the economic recovery, we agreed to establish a travel corridor arrangement which we will gradually open one by one,” he added.
Mr Ismail Sabri said that Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to start opening the borders of the two countries with the travel arrangement.
"And I have agreed with the president, that the relevant ministers will look into more detail so that we can start opening the two countries.
“We can open our borders, and maybe we can start with this initial framework with Kuala Lumpur - Jakarta - Kuala Lumpur, and also Kuala Lumpur - Bali - Kuala Lumpur.”
In a separate press release issued by the Malaysian prime minister’s office, it said that the travel lane would give priority to those who have been "fully vaccinated, for officials, business travellers, and those travelling for medical and humanitarian reasons."
The travel corridor will also involve mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccination certificates and standard COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) screening test results, said the statement.
Malaysia hopes that the travel lane with Indonesia can start in early 2022, added the statement.
Indonesia has so far no vaccinated travel lane (VTL) with other countries but Malaysia announced its first VTL on Monday with Singapore.
Mr Ismail Sabri’s is currently on a three-day visit to Indonesia at the invitation of Mr Widodo.
It is his first official overseas trip since assuming office in August. Both leaders also took the opportunity to discuss other issues such as the developments at the Kalimantan-Sabah border, the Myanmar crisis and issues in the South China Sea.
PROTECTION OF INDONESIAN MIGRANT WORKERS
Mr Widodo and Mr Ismail Sabri also discussed the protection of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two countries.
"Some of the issues that we discussed earlier were about the importance of cooperation in protecting Indonesian citizens in Malaysia.
“I encouraged that the MOU on the protection of domestic workers can be finalised immediately,” said Mr Widodo who is popularly known as Jokowi.
Mr Ismail Sabri noted that both countries have made progress on the MOU on the recruitment and protection of Indonesian domestic workers, which he hoped could be finalised in the near future.
He said Malaysia on its part has taken steps in the protection of Indonesian migrant workers, including passing a new law to ensure the minimum standards of housing facilities for the comfort of foreign workers in the country.
The Malaysian government has also extended until the end of the year the recalibration or amnesty programme to Indonesian citizens with expired work permits who could not return home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Ismail Sabri said that he hopes the programme can be fully utilised by Indonesian citizens in Malaysia who either want to return home voluntarily or to work legally in Malaysia.
Earlier, both Mr Widodo and Mr Ismail Sabri witnessed the exchanges of two memorandums of understanding signed between Indonesia and Malaysia in matters related to financial and educational agreements.
Mr Ismail Sabri will also witness the signing of a few other MOUs with the Indonesian chamber of commerce later on Wednesday and visit a defence industry facility in Bandung during his stay.
He has also invited Mr Widodo to visit Malaysia.