Singapore eateries largely unaffected by Malaysia's lockdown

The Fei Siong Group, which runs the Malaysia Boleh! and Malaysia Chiak! foodcourts, has 50 employees who commute daily from Malaysia. Executive director Tan Kim Leng said the company is looking for accommodation for them.
The Fei Siong Group, which runs the Malaysia Boleh! and Malaysia Chiak! foodcourts, has 50 employees who commute daily from Malaysia. Executive director Tan Kim Leng said the company is looking for accommodation for them.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Owners of restaurants and eateries said operations are largely unaffected by Malaysia's movement restriction order.

Some told The Straits Times that they do not have workers who commute daily from Malaysia and those who do say most of the affected staff have found accommodation here for the next two weeks.

Colleagues have also offered their homes to those who need a place to stay during the restriction period from March 18 to 31.

Mr Paul Liew, co-owner of zi char restaurant Keng Eng Kee Seafood in Bukit Merah, said operations are not affected because it provides accommodation for foreign staff. There are 14 Malaysian cooks and service employees in its 40-strong team.

He added: "Three workers are on annual leave in Malaysia and one will come back immediately. But the other two are stuck there because their flights were cancelled.

"Only one employee in the administration team commutes from Malaysia daily and she will remain in Malaysia to work from home."

Mr Pang Seng Meng, co-founder of the New Ubin Group, with outlets in Tampines, Zhongshan Park and Chijmes, also said the company provides accommodation for its Malaysian workers, who form half its workforce.

This is echoed by Ms Kristine Foo, one of the partners of casual eatery The Famous Kitchen in Sembawang. The restaurant, which is affiliated to the more upmarket Famous Treasure Chinese Restaurant in Capitol Piazza, also provides accommodation for its Malaysian workers.

Chef-owner Yong Bing Ngen of Majestic Restaurant at Marina One, Majestic Bay at Gardens by the Bay and Jing at One Fullerton, said the restaurants are not affected because all their Malaysian workers live in Singapore.

The Fei Siong Group, which runs the Malaysia Boleh! and Malaysia Chiak! foodcourts in shopping malls, has 50 employees who commute daily from Malaysia. Executive director Tan Kim Leng said the company is looking for accommodation for them.

A spokesman for TungLok Group, which operates more than 10 Chinese restaurant brands, said it has only about 20 employees affected and most have already found places to stay here with friends and relatives.

 
 
 
 

She added: "The rest are looking for accommodation and the company is assisting them."

Bao Shi F&B Management, which runs zichar outlet Lai Bao, Founder Bak Kut Teh, Wee Nam Kee, Ah Chiang's Traditional Porridge and Monga Taiwanese Fried Chicken, said it has found accommodation for its 20 affected Malaysian employees.

A spokesman said: "Upon the announcement yesterday night, we immediately started sourcing for accommodation for our Malaysian staff, especially those who travel across the Causeway daily. Fortunately, we managed to secure adequate accommodation for them these coming two weeks."

Sushi Tei employees will host their Malaysian colleagues in their homes.

Director Allen Tan said: "Many of our Singaporean staff have offered to host their Malaysian colleagues for these two weeks. Together, as a team, we will be able to overcome the challenge."

Some eateries also expressed concern for Malaysian employees who are unable to visit their families across the Causeway for the next two weeks.

Mr Liew of Keng Eng Kee Seafood said: "The biggest concern is how the employees will feel as they have families in Malaysia. They may feel anxious and don't know what to do."

 
 

He and his siblings, who co-own the business, had a quick meeting with the staff the morning after Malaysia announced the lockdown. He said: "Our employees who are still in Singapore are calm and choose to stay in Singapore."

New Ubin Seafood offered employees the choice to return home before the border closes.

Mr Pang noted: "For our staff who need to supervise or be with their families in Malaysia in these difficult times, we offer the option of no-pay leave in the next two weeks. They can resume their jobs once the situation is less severe."

Ms Kong Poh Pei, 34, a supervisor at Yun Nans restaurant at Westgate, is one of those affected by the lockdown. The mother of two commutes daily to Singapore from Johor Baru.

The company has arranged for her to stay with a colleague for the next two weeks. She was on leave in Malaysia yesterday and when she heard the news, immediately packed 14 days' worth of clothes.

 
 

She said in Mandarin: "A few of us travel from JB daily and last night, my boss helped to make arrangements for where we can stay."

Ms Kong said it was a big relief: "How else would I find a place on my own at such short notice? If I rent a place, I'll need to place a deposit. Going to a hotel will be too expensive.

"This situation is completely out of my control and I just hope it doesn't stay this way for too long."