S’pore bosses willing to accommodate

Crossing borders: Commuters from Johor taking the Woodlands Causeway to Singapore a day before Malaysia imposes a lockdown on travel. ­— Reuters

JOHOR BARU: Many Singaporean employers have told their workers to be prepared for a two-week stay in the island republic following Malaysia’s decision to close the border today.

Those who do not return to Singapore will most probably be given two weeks’ unpaid leave.

Some Singaporean companies have started making accommodation arrangements for their Malaysian employees. There are also companies which have asked employees to stay with relatives or friends.A factory worker, who only wanted to be known as Sara, said his company gave him time off to pack his clothes and return to Singapore before the new border controls are implemented.

“My company said that if it cannot find me a place to stay, I will just have to stay in the factory, ” he said, adding that he decided to go back to Singapore because he is the family’s sole breadwinner with three school-going children.

Sara hopes that the border will remain open as many livelihoods are at stake.

S. Sathia, 36, who works as a security officer, said that although his company was willing to provide accommodation for Malaysian workers, he chose to be back in the country and clear his leave instead.

“The company gave us the option of staying there or clearing our leave. I have a wife and children. I cannot leave them alone for these two weeks when things are really unpredictable, ” he said, adding that fellow workers were also allowed to take unpaid leave.

Mohd Syafiq Jaafar, 28, who works in a restaurant in Singapore, said that he chose to take two weeks’ unpaid leave during the movement control order to take care of his pregnant wife.

“My wife could give birth anytime. I’m afraid I may not be able to make it back for my wife’s delivery if I get stuck during the restriction period, ” he said.

Syafiq hopes the restriction period will not be extended as this will severely affect his income and many other Malaysians working in Singapore.

Another daily commuter known as Tan said his company would provide food and a place to stay.

“However, the company has told us that those who do not return on time will have to take compulsory two weeks’ unpaid leave.

“It has assured Malaysians that their employment will not be terminated as this is a sudden decision by the Malaysian government, ” he said.Tan had just returned home after his night shift and was planning to pack up and head back to Singapore.Some 300,000 people commute daily between the two border crossings.Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that he had discussed the situation during a phone conversation with Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and agreed that the restriction was necessary. “Malaysians living in Johor but working in Singapore will have to comply with the Malaysian lockdown. This will prevent them from commuting daily, at least for the time being.

“We are therefore working out arrangements with our companies to help these Malaysian workers stay in Singapore temporarily, if they would like to do so, ” he said in a statement on his official Facebook page.

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