Malaysian Workers' Endless Patience to Return to Their Homeland
By: Mathuumitha G. Ragawan
Editor: Lingesh Kumar
BANGI, 28 Nov - This November 18th marks the eighth month for most of the Malaysian workers to stay in Singapore since the MCO (Movement Control Order) was implemented as a preventative measure by the Federal Government of Malaysia due to COVID-19 Pandemic. Malaysia-Singapore borders are not officially opened as the COVID-19 cases are still bad in Malaysia.
Nadi Bangi managed to interview some Malaysian workers who have been staying in Singapore since the start of MCO. Most of them said that they miss their family members and this is their very first time not being able to meet their loved ones for a long time. Prathaban Ammiapan, 31, said, “I do miss my family. But I have to stay away from them to earn as I am the main breadwinner. I wish to meet them all as soon as possible,”.
This pandemic has brought a very hard time for the people and especially Malaysians that work in Singapore because they had to face so many challenges in their daily life. Thanan Velu, 25, “We face a lot of challenges such as money-wise, food-wise, and so on. We don't have enough money to spend on our expenses staying in Singapore as the living cost is high. This is mainly because we need to send our money to our family and survive with the balance money that we have. We also have no overtime job and we only get paid with our basic salary since the lockdown that we find it very difficult to survive. Furthermore, the rental is also very high which takes up almost a quarter of our salary.”
Even in such situations, there are some employees that look onto the bright side. Winner Hor, 21, said that she feels so lucky and grateful because her company provides accommodation to stay during this lockdown period that makes her not to worry about where to stay. Furthermore, Gan Jui Ping, 22, stated that staying alone in Singapore during this period is actually good because this has become a very good opportunity to learn to be independent and also to train self-discipline.
Even though many months have passed, Malaysian workers are still being positive and patient to be united with their loved ones. Prathaban said that everyone has to do their part by staying safe and vigilant to get over this pandemic situation.
Mohd Solihan Badri, the chairman of Johor State Public Works and also an infrastructure and transportation committee said that some of the Malaysian workers had to remain in Singapore and wait for their turn to take annual leave to return to their homeland. He also mentioned that some of the workers hesitate to return to their homeland as they are worried about losing their jobs in Singapore.
To make the situation better, Mohd Solihan suggested that both governments should make use of this time to reopen the border to daily commuters as COVID-19 cases in Johor and Singapore were low but at the same time they should also make sure that there is adequate COVID-19 testing on both sides of the border and good compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOP). Malaysian-Singapore Workers task force president Dayalan Sreebalan also hopes that the Federal Government will begin to look at the problems faced in Singapore by Malaysian employees.