In light of the Malaysian government’s imposition of restricted movement order from 18 to 31 March, about 20 Malaysian workers were seen sleeping near the Kranji MRT Station as their employers have not secured any accommodation for them, TODAY reported earlier today (19 March).
Earlier on 17 March, Singapore’s Manpower Minister Josephine Teo announced that over 10,000 Malaysians have managed to secure accommodation in Singapore, amid the nationwide restricted movement order in Malaysia.
Ms Teo remarked that the Ministry of Manpower (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.
However, she also noted that around 100,000 Malaysians working in the city-state have no living arrangements in Singapore as of Tuesday evening (17 March).
“It may take some time because employers and workers have preferences, and different budgets, so we need time to match them,” said Ms Teo.
Consequently, about 20 Malaysian workers had to spend the night near the Kranji MRT Station as their employers have not secured accommodation for them.
According to TODAY, the workers were mostly from the cleaning and manufacturing industries, and they claimed that they were given no choice but to sleep outdoors until they found accommodation.
One of the Malaysian workers, Armel Sharil, 31, who works as a warehouse storekeeper said his employer is still looking for an accommodation for him. He said he waited until the station’s metal gates were pulled shut at 1am before he can lie down on the floor and rest.
“I’ll wake up at about 5am, around the time the station opens,” Mr Armel noted, adding that he only has four hours to sleep.
Mr Armel only brought his wallet, a phone with no internet access, a portable charger, a small tub of hair wax, and mouthwash as he did not have time to pack his things before the lockdown.
Another worker, Ms Sarala, 36, who works as a dishwasher noted that she slept at the station before and decided to spend the night there again as she is familiar with the faces of people who commute from Johor Bahru to Singapore.
Meanwhile, Ms Chandra, 49, who works as a cleaner at an office located in Pioneer near Tuas, claimed that they have no choice but to sleep there until they found a place to stay.
Despite all the inconveniences, the workers indicated that it is not a big issue for them as long as they can keep their jobs.
“I’m going to continue working here even if the lockdown is extended because I need to feed my family back home,” Mr Armel said, adding that many Malaysian workers have lost their jobs despite having to brave the traffic at the Causeway checkpoints.
Malaysian worker, Mohana Ambigai Dewi, 25, who works as a school cleaner was terminated from work on Wednesday (18 March) when she failed to turn up at work at noon on Tuesday.
Ms Mohana said the jam at the Causeway was too long and she could not call her employer to inform that she could not come to work because her phone battery died.
“When I turned up this morning (18 March) to explain my situation, he just told me that the company has canceled my work permit,” she noted.
Meanwhile, at 10.30pm, two officers from the Public Transport Security Command (TransCom) came to the station to wake and ask for the workers’ details individually.
Two groups of Singaporeans also came to hand out sleeping bags, water, and snacks to them. One group, led by political activist Gilbert Goh, offered options for lodgings to the workers while giving out water.
Malaysian government imposed a nationwide restricted movement order amid the COVID-19 outbreak
Earlier on 16 March, the Malaysian government has announced a nationwide restricted movement order beginning 18 to 31 March to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the country.
Malaysia has recorded a total of 900 COVID-19 cases and two fatalities to date (19 March).
The order, made under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and the Police Act 1967, will see tightened border controls. Malaysians are not allowed to travel abroad and foreigners are prohibited to enter the country throughout the imposition of the order.
Following that, thousands of Malaysians have decided to make it across to Singapore before the lockdown took effect. Long queues of people were spotted walking to the Woodlands crossing, Singapore on Tuesday night (17 March).
Woodlands checkpoint, entry into Singapore. pic.twitter.com/4LctfUJOC5
— Toon Seri Anthraxxxx (@anthraxxxx) March 17, 2020
Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower secured accommodation for over 10,000 Malaysian workers
Following Malaysia’s restricted movement order, Singapore’s Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said in a press briefing on 17 March that over 10,000 Malaysians have managed to secure accommodation in Singapore and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) “has been working with tripartite partners to support the affected companies” in finding “suitable accommodation” for their Malaysian workers.
Ms Teo highlighted the three available housing options and deemed the first option to be the most comfortable option where “employers can encourage the affected workers to stay with relatives, friends, or colleagues in Singapore”.
The second option is for employers to consider hotels and dorms. She noted that MOM has a list and will link up the employers with the accommodations.
While the final option is rental, and real estate agents can assist employers with that.
Nevertheless, around 100,000 Malaysians working in the city-state have no living arrangements in Singapore as of Tuesday evening (17 March), according to Ms Teo.
She indicated the move as a “temporary relief measure”, adding that companies will be given time to evaluate their manpower needs and to put in place “sustainable arrangements” for the time being.
In addition, Ms Teo also hinted that MOM will be offering a nightly allowance of S$50 per worker to firms affected by travel restrictions imposed by Malaysia in the country’s bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).