'Never experienced anything like this' say M'sians in S'pore


Modified 22 Mar 2020, 2:11 am

CORONAVIRUS | “After over 10 years working in Singapore, this is the first time I’m experiencing a situation like this...being away from my family for days but I have to maintain composure and continue working as usual.”

Those are the words of a Malaysian technician working in the gas and chemical sector in Singapore.

R Thambirajah, 50, is among the thousands of Malaysian nationals who opted to remain in Singapore following the Malaysian government’s nationwide movement control order (MCO), effective March 18 to 31, to flatten the infection curve of Covid-19.

“Our employer gives us options to come to work or not to come to work, and I, like many of my colleagues, opted to work because this MCO period may be extended or changed based on the current situation.

“If we don’t work during that MCO period, either two weeks or more, our income may be affected. God knows how much we miss our families, but we have to keep calm and obey the order,” he told Bernama here.

Thambirajah, who lives in Skudai, Johor, said the Singapore Ministry of Human Resources has also been channelling S$50 per day as accommodation aid to all affected Malaysian employees through their employers.

“I’m calling upon my fellow Malaysians to obey the MCO. Everybody must take this seriously. We have to make Covid-19 disappear as soon as possible. Please, have pity on us who have to be away from home,” he said.

Another technician in the same sector, Kamarudin Abdullah, 25, said staying put and continue working in Singapore at this moment seemed to be the best option for him as he is still single.

“Some of my colleagues could not opt for this as they have other commitments and family matters.

“Those who opted to stay and work are provided with hotel accommodation in the Bugis area, and the travel time between the hotel and our factory is about an hour, just about the same duration needed if we were to travel from Johor,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said he still hoped to be able to return to Malaysia as soon as possible.

Last Monday, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin declared that Malaysia will be placed under nationwide movement control order from March 18 to 31 due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The MCO entails, among others, a comprehensive restriction on all Malaysians travelling abroad, and entry of all foreign tourists and visitors into the country.

Meanwhile, an assistant nurse at a clinic in Orchard, Singapore, J Anushri, 22, from Perak, also opted to stay put in the island city-state during the MCO period as she had just secured the job two weeks ago.

“I have been looking for an opportunity to work in Singapore. To avoid worrying about permit issues or having to look for another job, I chose to stay, but I do hope that the Covid-19 issue will end soon,” she said.

She said her employer had also asked her to continue working during the MCO due to a shortage of staff at the clinic.

On Friday, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that Malaysians who commute daily to work in Singapore will be provided accommodation by the Singapore government for the two-week period when the MCO is in force.

He said this was among matters agreed to, following discussions between the governments of Malaysia and Singapore. - Bernama