Malaysian workers in a bind over new Singapore restrictions

JOHOR BARU: With Singapore announcing significantly stricter measures to address the Covid-19 pandemic, Malaysians working there are hoping that things will turn out for the best.

Accountant Khoo Yin Ting, 29, said she would stay put in the republic and hope for the best.

“Even if my workplace is not operating during the one-month period, I doubt I will go back to Malaysia.

“This is because upon returning to Malaysia, I will have to serve out a 14-day quarantine, and when I return to Singapore, I might be slapped with another quarantine, ” she said.

Security officer S. Sathia, 45, who chose to stay back in Johor when Malaysia announced its movement control order (MCO), said he was now in a bigger quandary.

“I was hoping for the situation to settle down once the MCO is over so that I could return to work in Singapore.

“But with the new measures announced in Singapore, it will be more difficult to return. I’ll have to go longer without any income, ” he said, adding that he would now consider taking up a job here instead.

A factory worker in Singapore, who wished to be known only as Zaki, 37, said the republic’s latest move put his job at an electronics factory at risk.

He said many Malaysians working in Singapore were helpless as companies were taking cost-cutting measures, including retrenchment.

“I do not know if I will have a job after this due to Singapore’s decision to tighten its procedures, ” he said.

Singaporean Mohd Fahmy Rahman, 35, who works as an assistant head chef, said there were 14 Malaysians employed at the restaurant he worked in.

He said one of the decisions announced by Singapore’s government was to allow food outlets to operate with customers only allowed to order takeaways.

“We will lose quite a lot in revenue. Our Malaysian workers decided to stay back but the cost of living in Singapore is very expensive. Just room rental alone cost up to S$500 (RM1,500), ” he said.Johor Indian Business Association president P. Sivakumar said despite Singapore’s latest decision, he did not expect Malaysians still waiting for jobs in the republic to return to Johor in droves.

“They have high commitment with bank loans and other financial obligations, which is what pushed them to continue looking for jobs in Singapore.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced yesterday that most workplaces would be closed from Tuesday and all schools would move to full home-based learning a day later.

He said except for key economic sectors and essential services such as restaurants, markets, supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transportation and banks, all other work premises would close for a month.

Johor Baru MP Akmal Nasir meanwhile urged the Malaysian government to allow Malaysians in Singapore to return following the republic’s latest decision.

He said the decision would affect Malaysians in the country who would not be able to work.

“However, those who return must go through a strict screening process and mandatory quarantine for 14 days at centres set up by the government.

“If there are insufficient quarantine centres, the government should look at other assets, including community halls and schools, to be used as new centres, ” he said in a statement.

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