In the light of travel restriction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Malaysian workers are stranded in Singapore and struggling to return to their home country.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday (29 September), the founder of Transitioning.org and activist Gilbert Goh shared an encounter he had with a Malaysian man while carrying out the charity distribution.

Mr Goh said that he had met a “Malaysian uncle” a few months ago during the charity distribution and since then, the man has being their regular recipient.

According to Mr Goh, the Malaysian man is a Permanent Resident (PR) and has been stranded for six months in Singapore due to the closure of causeway to curb the spread of COVID-19.

He revealed that the man has been “sleeping in the rough” all along as the high rental cost of a proper shelter is beyond him.

“He [The man] seems cheerful despite his ordeal of not being able to return home in Malaysia though of late he expresses a bit of frustration at the regular U-turn on his government’s immigration policy,” Mr Goh said in his post.

“He is thankful that he has a job here and the government’s 75% subsidy of his company’s worker wages meant he is still gamefully employed,” he added.

Earlier, it was reported that the company in Singapore will get wages subsidy of up to 75 per cent for local employee under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS).

Under the scheme, about S$7 billion was allocated for more than 140,000 employers to help cover the wages of over 1.9 million local employees in Singapore.

In his post, Mr Goh also said that they believe many Malaysians are stranded out here and homeless “due to various reasons” as they have seen many such cases while distributing blankets and sleeping bags to the homeless community.

He went on to express hope for a prompt opening of the causeway, which enable the workers to return home and reunite with their families.

“We also hope that the causeway will be opened soon so that these workers can return home and reunite with their families. Many have not seen their children and spouses for close to more than half a year.

“Do something good for Singapore,” he noted.

When will the Malaysia-Singapore border reopen?

On 14 July, Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to open up cross-border travel for essential business and official purposes between both countries via the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) scheme.

The RGL scheme requires eligible travellers to abide by the prevailing COVID-19 prevention and public health measures mutually agreed upon by both countries, which includes undergoing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests.

It also said that the business or official travellers seeking to make essential travel via the RGL must be sponsored by either a Singapore-based company or a Singapore Government agency, which will file an application on behalf of the applicant.

With the implementation of RGL scheme, AirAsia has resumed its Kuala Lumpur to Singapore flights on 17 Aug, while the Johor Public Transport Corporation has also arranged shuttle bus service for the cross-border travellers without possession of a private vehicle.

Recently, the Johor assemblyman has called the Johor state government to set up a taskforce to review the full re-opening of the borders,

However, as reported by The Star, Malaysia’s Health Minister on 11 September revealed that Malaysia’s government is “looking at the possibility of fully reopening the Malaysia-Singapore border for daily commuters in January”.

“The recovery movement control order (MCO) period over the next four months would be an important time for the country as it would determine if it was possible to reopen the border with Singapore fully,” said the Malaysia’s Health Minister.

As part of effort to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, Malaysia’s MCO, which began in March, has been extended to 31 December this year.

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