Tiong King Sing asked for a rational border reopening for Chinese tourists to help revive the tourism industry in Malaysia but was met with criticism.
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Many countries are once again worried about the spread of Covid-19 from Chinese tourists ever since China reopened their borders after months of relentless lockdown.
Anxious citizens have asked their country’s borders to be closed to travellers coming in from China to prevent a rise in Covid-19 cases in their own countries.
The Malay Mail reported two main Covid-19 variants, namely BA.5.2. and BF.7, which are found spreading rapidly and accounted for almost 80% of the variants found in China, have been detected in Malaysia.
Although Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said there was no data to link serious cases or deaths to the BA.5.2 and BF.7 variants, many Malaysians are still wary.
Tourism Minister Dato Seri Tiong King Sing wrote on Facebook to call for a rational opening of the country’s borders to welcome travellers from China so that the friendship between both nations will be preserved.
Tiong also said the reopening of the borders can help pick up the Malaysian tourism industry and make Malaysia one of the top 10 destinations for Chinese tourists.
He added that any issues between both countries can be resolved by overcoming issues together through discussions.
Tiong’s words didn’t sit well with some Malaysian netizens. They didn’t like the idea of welcoming Chinese tourists and worried that the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia will return as it did before.
Some of them also felt like the government didn’t learn its lesson from the previous spike in cases which triggered the extension of Movement Control Order (MCO).
On the other hand, a few netizens pointed out that Tiong doesn’t control the border and reiterated that Tiong only asked for a rational or controlled border reopening to Chinese tourists.
Another netizen suggested others who disagree with the reopening of Malaysia’s borders to Chinese tourists direct the protest to the prime minister instead of bashing the Tourism minister.