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Malaysia struggles to shake COVID stigma as ASEAN restarts tourism

Government urged to do more to persuade neighbors to welcome vaccinated citizens

A Malaysia Airlines plane carrying domestic tourists: The country's neighbors are slow to welcome its travelers despite a high vaccination rate.   © Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR -- Song Ewe Jurn has not seen his frail grandmother in Singapore for over two years. Before COVID-19 shut the border in March 2020, the architect was one of thousands of Malaysians who frequently traveled to the island city-state on a tourist visa.

So when the 38-year-old heard Malaysia's announcement this month that fully vaccinated citizens would be allowed to travel abroad, coupled with Singapore's moves to ease travel restrictions, he was "very excited."

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