Coronavirus outbreak

Most supplies from Malaysia delivered as usual: Chan Chun Sing

S'pore working with Malaysia to ensure food and other goods will be able to come through

A truck driver from Malaysia having his temperature taken at the Woodlands Checkpoint yesterday. Most wholesalers and retailers here received their goods from Malaysia as usual yesterday. Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officers inspecting item
Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officers inspecting items carried by a delivery truck from Malaysia at the Singapore Cargo Clearance Centre at Woodlands Checkpoint yesterday. Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said he spoke to his Malaysian counterpart Azmin Ali yesterday, and both noted that "it is in our mutual interest to ensure that supply chains remain robust". ST PHOTOS: GIN TAY
A truck driver from Malaysia having his temperature taken at the Woodlands Checkpoint yesterday. Most wholesalers and retailers here received their goods from Malaysia as usual yesterday. Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officers inspecting item
A truck driver from Malaysia having his temperature taken at the Woodlands Checkpoint yesterday. Most wholesalers and retailers here received their goods from Malaysia as usual yesterday. ST PHOTOS: GIN TAY

Most wholesalers and retailers received their goods from Malaysia as usual yesterday morning, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said, reporting on the cross-border movement of supplies on the first day after Malaysia's lockdown started at midnight.

Products such as pharmaceuticals and infant diapers have also been allowed through the checkpoints, although there has been feedback from companies that some trucks bearing non-food supplies have not been let through, he said in a Facebook post.

"I am glad to see that the supply of fresh food has not been fully disrupted... We are monitoring the situation closely and are in touch with our Malaysian counterparts to ensure that food and other supplies will be able to come through to Singapore," Mr Chan said.

His update comes a day after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said an agreement had been worked out with Malaysia over the continued movement of cargo between both countries during the lockdown that will last until the end of the month.

On Monday night, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced the lockdown measure to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the country, sparking concerns among Singaporeans that regular food imports from Malaysia could be disrupted.

Singapore imports about 37 per cent of its chicken supply and 15 per cent of its fish from Malaysia, as well as produce such as eggs, vegetables and milk.

Mr Chan said he spoke to Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Azmin Ali yesterday.

"We both noted that it is in our mutual interest to ensure that supply chains remain robust and in working order, and agreed that we must maintain confidence in our people and businesses in order to successfully overcome the challenges posed by Covid-19," Mr Chan said.

He added that economic agencies are working with companies to minimise disruption to supply lines, with some companies already having activated sea and air freight to bring in sufficient supplies.

Following the lockdown at midnight, the two land checkpoints between Singapore and Malaysia fell unusually quiet, as the movement of the more than 400,000 daily travellers across the Woodlands Causeway and Tuas Second Link stopped.

All Malaysians are now barred from travelling abroad, while all foreign tourists and visitors to the country are banned.

In his Facebook post, Mr Chan also noted that some Malaysian workers who have decided to stay in Singapore for the next two weeks have managed to secure accommodation.

The Government is working with stakeholders to provide those without living arrangements here with temporary accommodation. By Tuesday night, about 10,000 workers had received such help, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said.

Mr Chan paid tribute to the estimated more than 300,000 Malaysian workers here. He said: "We thank the Malaysian workers who decided to make this personal sacrifice to ensure that business operations and essential services can continue in Singapore."

The Covid-19 pandemic, which has infected nearly 204,000 people globally and claimed about 8,200 lives as of yesterday, has upended international norms, with countries across the world imposing strict border controls and limiting the movements of their citizens.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2020, with the headline Most supplies from Malaysia delivered as usual: Chan Chun Sing. Subscribe