Ever since the Malaysian government imposed a nationwide restricted movement order on 18 March to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, some Malaysian workers in Singapore were seen sleeping in public spaces as they struggled to secure accommodation in Singapore.
It appears that the imposition of the Movement Control Order in the neighbouring country of Malaysia seems to also affect some Singaporean drivers in making ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One netizen took the time to share on Facebook about the conversation he had with a Trans-cab driver, who has been sleeping in his taxi since the Movement Control Order took effect in Malaysia.
On 11 April, netizen Alvin Aragon Koh posted on Facebook that he and his colleague booked a Trans-cab driver via the Grab app to go back to their workplace after buying food at Maxwell Food Centre.
“Our taxi was just opposite us but there were no sign of the driver. So I thought that he might have use the toilet or buying his meal from the food centre,” said Mr Koh. “A few minutes later, the driver came and picked us up to our destination.”
As they got into the taxi, the driver introduced himself and said that he is a Singapore citizen but lives in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The taxi driver spoke about how he has been sleeping in his taxi ever since the Movement Control Order took effect in Malaysia.
Considering the fact that the driver could have gone back before the lockdown, Mr Koh theorised that the driver stayed behind because he needs to earn money and look after his family in Malaysia.
“He took out his Identification Card (IC) to show his address to my colleague and I. He then tell us that his taxi company is not doing anything for his accommodations or whatsoever other than waiving off the taxi rent for a month,” he noted.
Mr Koh also uploaded a video of him speaking in Mandarin with the driver, he asked the driver, “What if you need to take a shower?” The video, however, did not show the taxi driver’s face.
According to the taxi driver, he has been using the facilities at Sentosa and somewhere nearby the Woodlands Checkpoint to shower.
Mr Koh also asked the driver if he also eats his meal in the taxi, the driver said he preferred not to eat in his taxi and go to a quiet place to eat instead. The driver worries if anyone would snap a photo of him and post it up on social media for not eating at a proper place.
Following that, Mr Koh urged people to smile if they ever happen to meet the taxi driver or any other frontliners.
“If anyone ever happen to take his taxi or meet any other frontline people, smile and thank them for sacrificing their time outside during this crucial period. Stay safe everyone and together, we can fight this through,” he noted.
Malaysia extends Movement Control Order until 28 April
Earlier on 10 April, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the country’s Movement Control Order will be extended until 28 April.
Mr Muhyiddin believes that the extra time will give medical personnel dealing with COVID-19 more room to manage conditions pertaining to the virus more effectively and to prevent the re-ignition of an outbreak across the country.
The order—made under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and the Police Act 1967—took effect on 18 March for a two week period was then extended on 31 March to 14 April. After that, it was extended once again until 28 April.
Following the implementation of the order, Malaysians are not allowed to travel outside the country or between states and citizens who have recently returned from overseas are required to undergo health tests and a 14-day self-quarantine. Outbound and inbound travel is also restricted.
“People should continue practising good hygiene and safe distancing measures, as the war on COVID-19 is not yet over”, Mr Muhyiddin noted.