Coronavirus: Support offered to Malaysian workers staying in Singapore after lockdown, says Iswaran

(From left) Postmen Hairul Azhar Ismail, Mohammad Hussin Supardi and Mohd Syafiq Mohd Yusoff, who are all from Johor, sorting out mail at SingPost’s Kallang Bahru delivery base on March 18, 2020.
(From left) Postmen Hairul Azhar Ismail, Mohammad Hussin Supardi and Mohd Syafiq Mohd Yusoff, who are all from Johor, sorting out mail at SingPost’s Kallang Bahru delivery base on March 18, 2020.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - With the start of the two-week Malaysian border lockdown, the Government will look for ways to provide accommodation to Malaysian workers who have chosen to stay in Singapore, and help employers with the cost.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday morning (March 18) at the SingPost office in Kallang, Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran and Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann addressed the issue of Malaysian workers who have chosen to stay in Singapore over the two-week lockdown.

Mr Iswaran said: “The Minister for Manpower has talked about the arrangement of facilities, to try and facilitate the supply of accommodation. Employers can then work out which best suits their needs.”

He added: “On one hand, we facilitate the supply of accommodation possibilities, and at the same time, support to manage the cost associated with it.”

Mr Iswaran, together with Ms Sim, greeted and thanked around 90 Malaysian postal crew members who had decided to stay in Singapore to ensure the continuation of the postal service here.

SingPost has arranged for more than 400 of its Malaysian staff to stay in three different hotels.

Those working at the Kallang branch are staying in Holiday Inn over the two weeks.

About 20 per cent of its Malaysian staff have declined to stay in Singapore. They will first use their annual leave and then go on no-pay leave.

One member of the postal crew who decided to stay is Mr Hairul Azhar Ismail, 29.

He said a tearful goodbye to his wife and one-year-old son in their Johor Baru home on Tuesday.

He said: "It was very sad to leave. My wife cried and my son cried too... Before I left for Singapore, we all gathered for dinner and said our goodbyes. I'll be video-calling them every day."

This comes after Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday announced a nationwide lockdown, starting from Wednesday until March 31, in a bid to stem the rising number of coronavirus cases in Malaysia, which has recorded more than 600 cases and two deaths as of Tuesday.

 
 
 
 

All Malaysians will be barred from travelling overseas. This includes Malaysians who travel to Singapore on a near daily basis for work or study, said Malaysia's immigration chief Khairul Dzaimee Daud.

Tourists will not be allowed entry into Malaysia over the two-week period, while Malaysians returning from abroad must undergo a health examination and self-quarantine for 14 days.

Mr Iswaran, addressing the concern of the lockdown extending beyond two weeks, and how this might affect Malaysian workers in Singapore, said: "We will continue to monitor the situation and the feedback from our companies, see what else needs to be done and then respond appropriately."

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