Coronavirus: MSF shuts Jurong East sports hall used to shelter Malaysian workers due to low demand

People walk across the Causeway after clearing the Malaysian checkpoint on March 17, 2020, before the partial lockdown took effect.
People walk across the Causeway after clearing the Malaysian checkpoint on March 17, 2020, before the partial lockdown took effect.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Jurong East sports hall that sheltered Malaysian workers here following the country's partial lockdown of its borders last week closed on Monday (March 23) due to low demand.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said on Monday that the facility was no longer necessary after the "groundswell of community support to house these workers" as well as the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) efforts to assist employers in seeking accommodation for them.

About 30 Malaysian workers have slept there in the past week since the MSF set it up last Tuesday following Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's announcement the night before.

During the week, the MOM and the police stepped up patrols to check on Malaysian workers sleeping rough in the public. The MOM called their employers to ensure suitable accommodation was arranged for them, the MSF said.

On Monday, the Singapore and Malaysian governments agreed that some 300,000 Malaysian workers can continue to work in Singapore during the partial lockdown that is expected to last till March 31.

The terms included Singapore providing the workers with housing for two weeks and screening their health before they return to Malaysia.

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

The MOM said again on Monday that employers who fail to do so will be taken to task and may be barred from hiring foreign workers. It added that any Malaysian worker who is still without accommodation can contact the ministry at mom_qops@mom.gov.sg