MOM, police step up patrols to check for stranded Malaysian workers

Malaysian workers checking in at a temporary relief centre managed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development at Jurong East, which was repurposed from a sports hall. PHOTO: GRACE FU / FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the police have stepped up patrols across Singapore to check for Malaysian workers left stranded after their country's lockdown measures, it said in a statement on Thursday (March 19).

"Patrols over both nights picked up a small number of Malaysian workers without short-term accommodation. These included the 14 workers found at Kranji MRT station," it said.

They were immediately taken to a temporary relief centre managed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development at Jurong East while longer-term arrangements were made, said the statement.

Earlier on Thursday, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu referenced reports about stranded workers. She posted on Facebook about the centre, which was repurposed from a sports hall the morning after Malaysia announced the lockdown.

MOM in its statement also criticised a report by news site Today about the workers.

"Today did not present a full picture of the ground situation as a result of Malaysia's movement control order."

Ms Fu added that the workers at the hall were provided with basic necessities like toilet paper and a towel, as well as a sleeping bag.

MOM said the vast majority of employers have succeeded in finding proper arrangement for their Malaysian workers, despite having only 24 hours to react to news of the control measures by Malaysia.

Workers have been put up with relatives, friends or colleagues, hotels and dormitories, among other arrangements.

An MOM senior official said that about 2,000 employers and 10,000 Malaysian workers have been helped by a multi-agency group set up to find lodging.

In its statement, MOM reminded employers that if they do not need their Malaysian workers, they should have them return to Malaysia.

"If (employers) do need their Malaysian workers they must, despite the short notice and sudden circumstances, provide proper accommodation for them," it added.

A record number of workers normally residing in Malaysia crossed over to Singapore on Tuesday night, before Malaysia's new rules kicked in on Wednesday at midnight, which would have prevented them from doing so.

There are about 300,000 Malaysians who work in Singapore, about half of whom, under normal circumstances, would commute daily.

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