‘Anak Malaysia’ in Singapore plead with locals to comply with Covid-19 SOPs to hasten reopening of countries' borders

Commuters wait for a transport to leave the Woodlands Causeway across to Singapore from Johor March 17, 2020. — Reuters pic
Commuters wait for a transport to leave the Woodlands Causeway across to Singapore from Johor March 17, 2020. — Reuters pic

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SINGAPORE, Dec 11 — “Please help us by complying with the SOP.” This is the appeal of Anak Malaysia in Singapore to fellow Malaysians back home, as they have been affected also by the surge in Covid-19 cases in Malaysia the last two months.

The spike in Malaysia has resulted in Singapore tightening its cross-border measures again, starting with travellers from Sabah in October and then from all over Malaysia from late November.

It also involves the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA), a Safe Travel Lane which generally allows travellers to commute every three months between the two countries.

Singapore, which initially described Malaysia as one of the six low-risk countries and territories, had shortened the Stay-Home Notice (SHN) period to seven days from Sept 1 and allowed it to be held at home.

However, starting Nov 23, visitors will have to undergo SHN for 14 days at a facility set by the Singapore government. 

The Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test should also be taken 72 hours before travelling into Singapore.

The cost of 14 days SHN alone is two thousand Singapore dollars not including swab test.

“This is the kind of spiral effect that we are facing here. If the cases are not reduced, we Malaysians here will also be affected. The opportunity for us to go home seems bleak,” said Shahruddin Helmy Mohd Noh, who works with a beverage company here.

Shahruddin Helmy or Eddie, who was able to return home last October under the PCA scheme, feels that his chances of meeting his twin children and other family members are getting slimmer.

An employee with a logistic company here, Pushparraj Kalaiselvan, also appealed to his friends, family and Malaysians back home to cooperate in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pushparraj, who has not had the opportunity to return under the PCA scheme, is happy that fellow Malaysians are able to cross state and district borders again from Dec 7 after the conditional movement control order (CMCO) was lifted in most parts of the country.

“I hope for the same thing. Help us... do follow the SOPs... with the reduction of cases in Malaysia then the strict border control may be relaxed again and eventually allowing us to commute daily to work here,” he said.

In a week’s time, the strict border control implemented to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic will enter the nine-month mark.

This has resulted in some Malaysians and permanent residents who previously commuted daily having to make drastic decisions to temporarily reside in Singapore.

There is no accurate data on the number of Malaysians in the republic at the moment.

However, about 50,000 passports were renewed in the first 10 months of this year at the Malaysian High Commission here, double last year’s total of 24,000.

Malaysian workers here are called Anak Malaysia by a number of Singaporeans who sympathise with the situation of those who have to live temporarily here with a high cost of living.

Singapore ranks fourth in the Worldwide Cost of Living index released by The Economist Intelligence Unit recently.

These Malaysians are “freer” to live together in the local community, including renting rooms in Housing Development Board (HDB) apartments and hostels, compared to migrant workers, the majority of whom are housed in dormitories.

Together they take care of their health by adhering to standard operating procedures (SOPs) so as not to contribute to the statistics of Covid-19 infection in this republic.

As at noon yesterday, the infection tally here was 58,297, with 54,504 cases involving migrant workers residing in dormitories, 2,275 community cases and 1,518 import cases. — Bernama

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