‘Let us see our families again’


So near yet so far: Malaysian Tan Sheau Hui, 48, chatting with her father Tan Keng Hock, 80, via video call from Singapore. Keng Hock stays in Taman Sentosa in Johor Baru. Both have fully been vaccinated and hope that travel restrictions between Malaysia and Singapore will be eased for those fully inoculated. — THOMAS YONG/The Star

JOHOR BARU: With millions of people getting their vaccinations against Covid-19 on both ends of the Johor Causeway, many are hopeful that Malaysia and Singapore will slowly begin to ease restrictions, especially for those who have been fully vaccinated.

Thousands of Malaysians in the island republic have either been fully vaccinated or have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

They hoped the Malaysian government would remove the 14-day mandatory quarantine at a centre to enable them to return home to spend time with their loved ones.

The quarantine requirements on one of the busiest border crossings in the world have been in place for more than one and a half years.

Currently, a person returning to Malaysia and going back to Singapore will need to be quarantined for 28 days (14 days in Malaysia and 14 days in Singapore) at a designated facility.

The cost is about RM2,200 on the Malaysian side and S$2,200 (RM6,600) on the Singaporean side.

Earlier, Malaysians were using the Periodic Travel Arrangement (PCA) that required them to serve only a seven-day home quarantine and undergo a swab test.

However, since May 13, Malaysia imposed a strict 14-day quarantine for those entering from Singapore after the country reported the spread of new Covid-19 variants in the community.

The Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) was then suspended.

Meanwhile, a recent online petition calling for the review of the quarantine period for Malaysians fully vaccinated in Singapore when they return has garnered more than 9,000 signatures in the last two weeks.

For Nurbayzura Basaruddin, 34, who works as a fast food outlet manager in Singapore, being away from her four young children since March last year has not been easy.

“I have already gotten my first vaccine dose and will get my second dose soon. I hope once I am fully vaccinated, both governments will help ease the quarantine requirements,” she said, adding that she missed her children, aged between two-and-a-half and 10 years.

She said many Malaysians were reluctant to return home as they would not just need to fork out more than RM8,000 in quarantine charges but also spend almost 28 days in quarantine in both Malaysia and Singapore.

“At least the Malaysian government can be compassionate to us (Malaysians) and do away with the 14-day mandatory quarantine for those who have received both doses in Singapore,” she said.

Nurbayzura added that her youngest son was only 11 months old when she last saw him, and now he is able to talk and run and she misses seeing him grow up.

She previously commuted daily between both countries.

For project manager Danny Tay, 43, who started the online petition http://chng.it/7kF5RN4R two weeks ago, said he did not expect to garner many signatures among Malaysians in Singapore.

“Besides the many people working here, there are also those who have lost their jobs and Singaporeans who are married to Malaysians, who have all been separated from their loved ones.

“This is very stressful and to ask Malaysians who have lost their jobs for money to pay for their 14-day quarantine at a hotel in Johor Baru is really not fair,” he said.

He hoped the Malaysian government would consider doing away with the two weeks’ quarantine for those fully vaccinated and replace it with a one-day quarantine until they get their PCR test results.

Tay, who has received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine in Singapore, said he missed his family, especially his 10-year-old son in Kuala Lumpur.

“I video call them (family) almost daily and try my best to play video games with him online and also do tuition sessions with him twice a week,” he added.

Part-time worker Tan Sheau Hui, 48, who has been in Singapore since October last year, said she, too, has been fully vaccinated and hoped border restrictions would be eased for those who have been fully vaccinated.

“I miss my parents very much and, previously, I returned home weekly. Now it is just too expensive to go back to Malaysia due to the high quarantine cost on both sides and also the many days wasted during quarantine,” said Tan, who is pursuing her studies in digital marketing.

She said as both countries recorded a high number of people being fully vaccinated, the quarantine period should be reviewed.

“Even my elderly parents in Johor Baru are fully vaccinated,” she said.

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