Coronavirus: Mum quit job to reunite with child in Johor but dad is in Singapore

Ms Shermaine Chan in Johor with her daughter, in a video call with her husband, who has to stay here.
Ms Shermaine Chan in Johor with her daughter, in a video call with her husband, who has to stay here.PHOTO: COURTESY OF SHERMAINE CHAN

Ms Shermaine Chan was torn between staying in Singapore with her husband and returning to Malaysia to see her one-year-old daughter. After four months apart since Malaysia shut its border on March 18, Ms Chan quit her retail job to return to Johor last Monday.

This was a day before Singapore and Malaysia announced the reciprocal green lane and periodic commuting arrangement which will begin on Aug 10.

"I didn't know how long more I would have to wait to see Phoebe. I didn't have a choice," said Ms Chan, 28, a Malaysian who came to Singapore to work nine years ago.

Her parents help to take care of her daughter back in Johor.

Both Ms Chan and her husband, Mr Yip Ching Hing, are now permanent residents here and rent a three-bedroom Housing Board flat in Bedok.

Mr Yip, 30, who also works in the retail sector, said: "We decided that our daughter should not be without her parents for too long. We can't go back together. I need to stay here to work so I can buy milk powder for my daughter."

He last saw his daughter on the weekend of March 14 in Johor. In pre-Covid-19 days, Ms Chan would travel to Johor every weekend to see her daughter. Mr Yip would join her if he had the weekend off.

Last Monday, Ms Chan walked for an hour from Woodlands Checkpoint to Johor Bahru Checkpoint, with luggage in tow as there was limited transportation.

At the Malaysian checkpoint, she had to take a swab test. "I took the test at 12pm and got the result at about 4pm. I was negative and was allowed to leave immigration," said Ms Chan, who paid RM60 (S$20) for the test. "Those who are positive would be taken to a hospital."

 
 

Ms Chan, who is currently serving a 14-day quarantine at home, said: "I hope my husband can make it back in time to celebrate our daughter's birthday. She will be turning two on Aug 14, four days after the 'green lane' opens."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 19, 2020, with the headline 'Mum quit job to reunite with child in Johor but dad is here'. Print Edition | Subscribe