JOHOR BARU, April 3 — Johor Baru MP Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir has urged the government to look into allowing Malaysians in Singapore to return after authorities across the Causeway announced a one-month island-wide shutdown starting next week.
He said this was important as the latest announcement by the Singapore government, called a “circuit-breaker” move, has resulted in Malaysians working and still living in Singapore being left unemployed and without living shelter.
“Therefore, I urge the government to look into the need to allow Malaysians in Singapore to return to Malaysia,” Akmal said in a statement in response to Singapore’s announcement.
Earlier today, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on announced a one-month shutdown starting next Tuesday, saying that most workplaces, except for essential services and key economic sectors, will be closed down.
He said food establishments, markets and supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport and key banking services will remain open as they are essential services.
However, Akmal said those who return to Malaysia must still undergo a rigorous screening and quarantine procedure within 14 days of returning.
He said the returnees should be placed in the quarantine centres provided by the government.
Akmal, whose parliamentary constituency borders the Causeway to Singapore, added that in the event of a lack of existing quarantine areas, the government will need to look at its existing assets such as community halls and schools to cater as a quarantine centre.
“Proper directives to those traveling from Singapore to Malaysia must be clearly communicated and organised to maintain safe social distancing.
“This is crucial in ensuring the success of the movement control order (MCO) that has been enforced to this day is not affected,” he said.
Meanwhile, Skudai assemblyman Tan Hong Pin also urged the government to make better preparations and review the previously established immigration rules following Singapore’a announcement.
He said his concern was that based on the Singapore authorities, more than 10,000 Malaysian workers may be affected by the move.
In the event that they are forced to return to Malaysia, Tan said the government will need to make preparations if the government still intends to maintain the MCO, which requires 14 days of quarantine.
“Are the quarantine centres around Johor Baru or nearby areas sufficient to meet the demand if hundreds of thousands of Malaysians affected by Singapore’s latest policy intents to return to Malaysia?
“If our existing capabilities may not be sufficient, what is the alternative and has the government prepared for such a scenario?”, asked Tan, whose state constituency has a substantial number of Malaysians working in Singapore.
Johor has two border crossings connecting the state and Singapore.
The main Johor Causeway connects the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar’s CIQ in JB Sentral in Johor Baru to Woodlands in Singapore.
The Second Link Crossing, located in Tanjung Kupang near Gelang Patah, is the second land route connecting the Sultan Abu Bakar CIQ Complex in Johor to Tuas in Singapore.
Before the enforcement of the MCO, it is estimated that more than 300,000 people enter and exit Singapore from Johor via both the Johor Causeway in Johor Baru and the Second Link Crossing on a daily basis, in what can be described as one of the region’s busiest border crossings.