The movement of fresh food and other essential supplies such as pharmaceuticals into Singapore from across the Causeway “has not been fully disrupted”, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on the first day of Malaysia’s 14-day movement control order.
While the order prohibits citizens from exiting and foreign visitors from entering Malaysia during the stipulated period, exemptions apply to all essential services such as food supplies, utilities, telecommunications, postal services, transport, broadcasting, financial and banking services, and health services — among several other sectors.
“I am glad to see that the supply of fresh food has not been fully disrupted and most of our wholesalers and retailers managed to receive their goods as per normal since this morning,” said Mr Chan in a Facebook post on Wed (18 Mar).
He also thanked his Malaysian counterpart Senior Minister and Minister of International Trade and Industry Azmin Ali for “facilitating the flow of goods and supplies into Singapore during this period”.
“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,” said Mr Chan.
Mr Chan however noted that certain firms “have provided feedback that trucks not containing food” have not been permitted to enter Singapore.
“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 as agreed by Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin in his phone call with PM Lee yesterday,” he said.
Mr Chan added that some Singapore companies have “activated alternative transport arrangements via sea and air freight” to import goods from Malaysia into Singapore.
“Our economic agencies are working with our companies, in particular those dealing with essential products and services, to minimise disruption to their supply lines,” he said.
The Malaysian government on Mon night (16 Mar) announced the nationwide restricted movement order in the country’s bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Acknowledging that the decision of certain Malaysian workers “to leave their homes and families to stay in Singapore during this period” must have been a difficult one to make, Mr Chan thanked the said workers who “decided to make this personal sacrifice to ensure that business operations and essential services can continue in Singapore”.
Most Singapore firms have also managed to “secure the necessary accommodation for their Malaysian workers” who will be staying in Singapore for the next two weeks for work, he added.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo earlier told a press briefing on Tue night (17 Mar) that MOM “has been working with tripartite partners to support the affected companies” in finding “suitable accommodation” for their workers who may be subject to Malaysia’s movement control order.
In that vein, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will be offering a nightly allowance of S$50 per worker to firms affected by travel restrictions imposed by Malaysia.
“For every affected worker, we will provide the firms with the support of S$50 a night for 14 nights,” she said, adding that more details on how to apply for the allowance will be shared later.
Citing the move as a “temporary relief measure”, Mrs Teo said that companies will be given time to evaluate their manpower needs and to put in place “sustainable arrangements” for the time being.
She also encouraged affected workers to try staying with their family, friends or colleagues who are able to accommodate them, or to stay in hotels or hostels.
“I’m confident that by the end of the day, any one of the affected workers that need to stay in Singapore will be able to find suitable accommodation,” she said.