'We'll pay and walk to go back to class'

The empty Causeway on July 26. Some Malaysian students studying at Singapore universities are willing to bear quarantine costs and the 1km walk across the Causeway to return to campus, while others will continue with online classes or defer their sem
The empty Causeway on July 26. Some Malaysian students studying at Singapore universities are willing to bear quarantine costs and the 1km walk across the Causeway to return to campus, while others will continue with online classes or defer their semester until the border is fully reopened.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

JOHOR BARU • Some Malaysians studying at Singapore universities are willing to bear quarantine costs and the 1km walk across the Causeway to return to campus as the semester begins later this month.

National University of Singapore (NUS) student Ivan Chong, 20, said he will be making the journey, even though many of his friends have decided to continue with online classes or defer their semester until the border between the two countries is fully reopened.

Under rules introduced to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the students would have to bear the cost of 14 days' quarantine on arrival.

"We have to pay about $1,000 to be quarantined for two weeks in Singapore before being allowed to go back to class," Mr Chong said.

He added that he would be informed about details of the quarantine by today. Most of his classes would still be conducted online, he said, while physical classes would be limited to 50 students.

"I have decided to go back as I do not want to miss out on classes or assignments," said Mr Chong.

Transport services at the border crossings between Malaysia and Singapore have been significantly reduced since the coronavirus curbs imposed by both countries, forcing people to travel on foot with their luggage. "This is the second time I am walking. The first time was when I returned to Johor Baru after Singapore announced its circuit breaker measures," he added.

Mr Eugene Chong, 19, who will be starting his semester at NUS, said he looked forward to the next phase of his student life despite the circumstances. He has paid $1,500 for his two-week quarantine.

"This will be my first semester at the university. Instead of having my parents with me, I will have to go there on my own and carry my own luggage across the Causeway. It may not be ideal, but I have no other choice," he said.

Meanwhile, Nanyang Technological University student Justin Seow, 25, said some of his Malaysian classmates will be coming back to Singapore this month. He has remained in the city state since the two countries imposed travel restrictions to address the pandemic. "I've decided to remain in Singapore and will return to Johor Baru only when the border reopens completely," he said.

He added that he hopes Malaysia and Singapore can provide a shuttle service for those who really need to cross the border, such as students.

CARRYING OWN LUGGAGE ACROSS CAUSEWAY

This will be my first semester at the university. Instead of having my parents with me, I will have to go there on my own and carry my own luggage across the Causeway. It may not be ideal, but I have no other choice.

MR EUGENE CHONG, who will be starting his semester at NUS after completing his two-week quarantine, for which he has paid $1,500.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 02, 2020, with the headline ''We'll pay and walk to go back to class''. Print Edition | Subscribe