Photo credit: Facebook/ Raqs B_Pagulayan

Worries aplenty for Malaysians working in Singapore after sudden announcement of Malaysia lockdown

Young Malaysians are prepared to forgo seeing their family members, if it means keeping their jobs.

Nigel Chin
Nigel Chin

Published: 17 March 2020, 12:00 AM

For Malaysians working in Singapore, their start to the week hasn’t been smooth-sailing.

That’s because most, if not all, have been forced into making alternative arrangements following Monday’s (Mar 16) announcement from Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that no Malaysia citizens will be allowed to leave the country from Wednesday until the end of the month. The move is aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

No exemptions have been made for Malaysians working in Singapore. According to TODAY, the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority said about 415,000 travellers use the land checkpoints between the two countries daily.

Vincent Teo, who crosses the border every day to get to work in Singapore, told Youth.SG that the sudden announcement has caused a lot of stress for him and his family members who work in Singapore.

While he is able to continue working from home, some of his family members who can’t do so will need to find temporary lodging in Singapore.

“Their company is helping them to get a place to stay, but they also need to rush to pack their luggage and find a way to enter Singapore by tonight (Tuesday) before the lockdown starts,” he said. “The announcement is too sudden for those who travel in and out everyday.”

Apart from that, the 29-year-old warehouse administrator also brought up the issue of not being able to see his family members for at least the next two weeks.

It is the same for Pua Qiqi, who goes home every weekend during her off-days to spend time with her parents.

With no indication that the lockdown will definitely end after two weeks, Qiqi said that she’s quite worried about not being able to see her parents for a prolonged period.

“My mum had initially asked me to buy some stuff to bring back this weekend, but now, I can’t go home,” the 27-year-old salesperson told Youth.SG.

“If we want to, we will have to use our annual leave because we might not be able to come back at all. And even then, it might not even be enough.” She added that being forced to stay in Singapore over the weekend will also mean that expenses will increase for her as the cost of living in Singapore is higher than in Malaysia – a concern for her as she’s not earning as much as before as sales have dropped because of the virus outbreak.

Vincent said that he and his family members will be using video calls to communicate frequently, as they have “no choice”.

“In any case, with the virus, safety should come first,” Vincent said, adding that not being able to see his family members wouldn’t hurt as much as those who can’t continue working because they can’t find accommodation in Singapore.

But he also questioned: “What happens when the workers can’t find a place to stay in Singapore? It’s not just a matter of us Malaysian workers being affected now; plenty of businesses in Singapore will be affected by this.”

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