Tearful reunions, rekindled romances and closure as S'pore-Malaysia land border reopens

Mr Roslan Haron reunites with his wife and their son in Johor Baru on April 1, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Mr Roslan Haron reunites with his wife and their son in Johor Baru on April 1, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Mr Roslan Haron reunites with his wife and their son in Johor Baru on April 1, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Thousands of Singaporeans and Malaysians finally met their loved ones after they crossed the Causeway on Friday (April 1) as land borders fully reopened for the first time in two years.

Here are four stories of tearful reunions, rekindled romances and missed goodbyes.

'I was praying every single day for this'

Mr Roslan Haron finally held his 11-month-old son in his arms for the first time since the baby was born, after he crossed the Causeway on Friday morning.

As he emerged from the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex in Johor Baru, the Malaysian found his wife, Ms Nurfifiafina Hamsani, waiting nervously with their son, Raees Meerza Roslan.

This was the first time the 43-year-old had seen the toddler in the flesh as Covid-19 border restrictions between Singapore and Malaysia had kept them apart.

Mr Roslan Haron finally held his 11-month-old son in his arms for the first time since his baby was born. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

"I had to leave my wife when she was five months pregnant to go to Singapore to work," the kitchen helper told The Straits Times soon after the reunion.

In tears, he said: "When I heard the borders were going to be opened, I praised God. I was praying every single day for this (to happen)."

When he saw his wife and son on Friday, Mr Roslan could hardly contain his excitement as he hurried briskly down the steps outside the checkpoint to meet them.

But he had to return to Singapore that night as he was unable to take leave from work.

"Maybe after Hari Raya, I will take two weeks' leave and stay (in Malaysia) longer," he said.

Romance renewed after two years apart

First came shock, then tears.

After two years of separation, that was how Mr Manpreet Raj Singh's girlfriend of three years reacted when the technician sprung a surprise visit at her Johor Baru home on Friday.

With the land borders between Singapore and Malaysia finally reopened, the Malaysian, 28, took a day of unpaid leave and headed straight to Woodlands Checkpoint after knocking off from work in the early morning.

He was buzzing when he spoke to ST after clearing immigration in Singapore, and said it felt like heaven after arriving in Malaysia later in the day.

"I hope they will never close the border again," he added.

Mr Singh, who used to commute daily between Johor Baru and Singapore before the pandemic, hopes he will be able to do so again soon.

For now, he intends to spend some quality time with his girlfriend, and plans to visit his mother in his hometown over the weekend.

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Bidding her father goodbye

When she received news that her father had died in Malaysia in December 2020, Ms Kartina Hashim could not return home to attend his funeral as the Causeway and Second Link were shut to curb the spread of Covid-19.

So the first place that the Singaporean said she wanted to visit, now that the land borders have been reopened, is her father's grave.

"I wasn't able to see my father for the last time… That is the one thing I am looking forward to, apart from seeing my family, my brothers, in Kuala Lumpur where they are staying right now," the 41-year-old told ST while waiting in line to drive into Johor Baru on Thursday night.

"Family is the highest priority," she added.

Ms Kartina Hashim outside her car in Woodlands on March 31, waiting for the land borders to fully reopen. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Ms Kartina and her husband had started queueing from about 10pm, about two hours before the Causeway opened around midnight, as they had expected a traffic jam.

"I'd rather be a bit kiasu (fear of losing out) and go early," she said.

Ms Kartina, who works in healthcare administration, has a house in Johor Baru that she has not gone to in two years, and said she is also taking the chance to check on it.

"Nobody is looking after it for me so I think it is in bad shape," she added.

She is also hopeful that the reopening of borders will lead to business picking up in and around Johor Baru very soon.

"I'm pretty sure that the people over there will welcome us Singaporeans to enjoy the shopping and the food," she said.

The first leg of a journey home

When Mr Hafiz Atan finally crossed the Causeway and reached Malaysian soil after two years away, he was so overcome with emotion he broke down and prayed at the side of the road.

The moment, captured by his friend and uploaded on TikTok by his wife, has been viewed more than 140,000 times and had garnered 13,000 likes on the short-form video sharing application as at 7pm on Friday.


Tears of joyness, Alhamdulilah ya allah! Syukur alhamdulilah! #kenanganindah @pis_1930

♬ Syukur Alhamdulillah - Wafiq Azizah

Mr Hafiz, 30, crossed the border early on Friday morning on motorcycle with a group of Malaysian friends he calls his "siblings".

The Singapore permanent resident, who works as a deliveryman, has been in the Republic with his Singaporean wife and five children since the borders closed in March 2020, and has not been able to see his ailing mother.

An only child, Mr Hafiz will be making the two-and-a-half hour car journey to see her in Muar, a town further north in Johor, as soon as possible.

Mr Hafiz Atan (in red) crossed the border early on the morning of April 1 by motorcycle with a group of Malaysian friends he calls his "siblings". PHOTO: COURTESY OF HAFIZ ATAN

His wife, Mrs Faiqah Hafiz, 29, told ST her husband could not believe he was really home when he contacted her while crossing the Customs in Johor Baru.

"He told me he was shaking because he felt like he was dreaming," she said.

Mrs Faiqah, who is self-employed and running a home-based food business, said she is planning to take the children up to Muar before Hari Raya Puasa at the start of May so the family can celebrate the holiday together.

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