JOHOR BARU (Bernama): Tears of joy and the hugs of his beloved family greeted the return of a Malaysian who was stranded for over a year in Singapore due to the demands of his work.
Even more heart-rending was when Bali Jalang, 36, from Sarawak, who last returned to Malaysia in October last year, said he had never held his youngest child who was only five months old.
The father of five, who has been working in the island republic for the past 16 years as a technician, said he was at a loss for words when he saw his wife Donna Alicia, 36, and his children waiting outside the arrival gate.
"I was not thinking about food at all today and had difficulty sleeping because I only wanted to meet my children and wife.
"I couldn’t put my feelings into words, after finding out that Malaysia and Singapore had agreed to implement the land Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL-Land).
"For sure, I did not want to miss out on the opportunity to return home,” he told reporters after arriving at the Larkin Sentral Bus Terminal Monday (Nov 29).
Bali, who lives in Pasir Gudang here, said his efforts to return home were assisted by his employer who helped to ensure he obtained a bus ticket.
"To book a ticket to return to Malaysia in Singapore has been quite challenging because there is congestion on the website, but I finally succeeded with the help of my employer and human resources (department),” he said.
Meanwhile, an employee in the procurement division of a company, who only wanted to be known as Dennis, 32, apart from his family, local food was among the things he longed for most.
He said he would make full use of the one-week holiday to go vacationing with his family.
"Most importantly, I want to go to a ‘mamak’ restaurant and eat roti canai, nasi lemak and others. No matter how great other countries are, we still pine for ours and feel that our country is very special.
"I have not returned to my hometown for the last two years since the Covid-19 pandemic. So, I feel extremely happy and excited to see my family in Kota Tinggi,” said Dennis, who has been working in Singapore for the last eight years.
Meanwhile, operations manager, Kavin Raj Gunalan, 24, said the efforts of the national leaders including Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohamad to ensure the VTL became a reality was much appreciated by Malaysians stranded in Singapore.
He said the experience of being stranded abroad to a certain extent, educated him to be more appreciative of his own country.
"I represent my friends in Singapore in expressing our utmost thankfulness and have been awaiting this moment.
"Because it is not easy to keep our emotions in check when we have not returned to our own country for a long time.
"What I miss most is my family, our unique and tasty food here. I also miss the merry and harmonious atmosphere in Malaysia. After this, I will go on holiday with my family and friends,” said Kavin Raj, who is on leave for three months. - Bernama