JOHOR BARU: The Singapore government’s decision to extend the quarantine period from 14 days to 21 days beginning tomorrow has not gone down well with many people, especially workers who have been stuck there since last year.
Many say that the cost of quarantine totalling more than S$3,300 (RM10,000) was just too high,
especially for those coming back to Johor using the special travel arrangements such as Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) as they have to pay up front before leaving Singapore.
Malaysia-Singapore Workers Task Force president Dayalan Sreebalan said Singapore’s move would cause more hardship to Malaysians working in the island republic.
“I do not understand why when it comes to hundreds of lorry drivers supplying goods, food and groceries to Singapore, there is no such drastic measures.
“They are all vaccinated and allowed to commute daily without having to be quarantined, ” he said, adding that Singapore should not impose a blanket ruling when negotiating border reopening-related matters with Johor.
Dayalan said that many Malaysians were stuck in Singapore as employers were reluctant to
fork out the more than S$3,300 (RM10,000) for their workers to allow them to return to Malaysia.
“This is almost three months’ pay for some of these workers and how are they supposed to survive and feed their families?” he asked, adding that many workers were calling him, pleading for help after the latest ruling was announced.
Dayalan also questioned why the Malaysian government allowed workers using PCA to enter Malaysia to be quarantined for two days at home while an ordinary person without PCA had to undergo 10 days’ quarantine at a designated facility.
He urged Singapore to allow Malaysian workers to stay in cheaper budget hotels at a rate of S$50 (RM150) per day, saying that quarantine involved a stay at five-star hotels.
It was reported that Singapore will impose a mandatory 21-day quarantine for foreign visitors starting today.
Travellers from foreign countries must be quarantined for three weeks in special facilities prepared by the government, except those from Australia, Brunei, mainland China, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.
Meanwhile, a Johorean who wished to be known only as Gibran said this would be his second year spending Hari Raya Aidilfitri away from his family.
He said the 21-day quarantine would be a huge burden on him and others, especially those doing odd-jobs and earning a meagre salary.
Gibran works as a barber during his free time to earn extra income.
“I came back to Malaysia in October last year and the quarantine period was 14 days. My company subsidised half of the charges totalling more than S$2,000 (RM6,000), ” said the technician who works in Singapore.
He alleged that other companies there did not offer such benefits to their employees as they were worried that the workers would not return to Singapore after entering Malaysia.
He added that the extended quarantine period would affect the workers’ salaries as their annual leave would be deducted and those not having enough days would have to take unpaid leave.
Another local known as Denish who works in the services industry said he would not be able to return to Malaysia for a long time due to the increase in the number of quarantine days.
“I earn about S$1,200 (RM3,700) per month and after deducting my room rent and living expenses,
I hardly have anything left to send back to my family, ” he said, adding that he had been in Singapore since March last year.
He said his company wanted him to pay for the quarantine charges if he wanted to return to Malaysia for a break to see his family.