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Malaysians and Indonesians are ecstatic about the relaxation of Singapore's border restrictions

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Residents CNA spoke to indicated that while Malaysians and Indonesians residing in Singapore are celebrating the removal of travel restrictions to their home countries, many are still hesitant to arrange a trip back due to administrative hurdles.


The two countries were among the many destinations upgraded to Category III under Singapore's border measure classifications based on COVID-19 concerns last Saturday (Oct 23).


Travellers in this group were also allowed to serve their stay-home notice at their own accommodation rather than at a specialised facility, easing quarantine requirements.


Individuals from Malaysia and Indonesia, two of Singapore's nearest neighbours, claimed the move was long overdue, following months of border restrictions that made it tough to return despite being only a short distance away.




The Malaysian community in Singapore was "ecstatic" when the news came, according to Michelle Ng, a founder member of the Telegram group "Malaysians Working in Singapore."

Ms Ng's first idea was that she might be able to reconcile with her family after a year of not seeing them.

"My heart aches to return," said the Kuala Lumpur-based 38-year-old, who used to visit Malaysia four to five times a year.


"It's been quite difficult because I'm very close with my family."
I can't imagine how difficult it must be for folks who cross the causeway on a daily basis."

She's already filling out paperwork for a two-week stay in November, but she's nervous about it.
"To be honest, anything can happen at this moment, and we don't know how quickly rules might change again," Ms Ng, who works in the health IT field, said.




Many others, unlike Ms. Ng, are debating whether or not to return home due to larger administrative issues.

Ms Serene Yap, a Malaysian national, is considering her options because travellers must still serve a 10-day stay-home notice, even if it is at their own house.

"I work in retail, so I can't work from home" (during the quarantine period).
I'm going to have to take some time off...
My vacation time is limited, so I'll have to figure something out."


The 40-year-old, who owns a gold jewellery store, used to visit her father in Johor Bahru every weekend.

She wants to see him because he recently had a minor procedure, but she's also worried about the COVID-19 situation in Malaysia.

"Even my father counselled me, 'You don't return now.'
'I'm doing fine.'
He, too, feels uneasy when he goes out since people there don't seem to care as much about the virus.”



On the other hand, some Singaporeans in Malaysia are apprehensive to return since they do not have a place to serve their stay-home notice.


Mr Jamaludin Abdul Ghani, a 58-year-old retiree, wishes to meet family here, including a grandchild and granddaughter he has never met.


"My eldest daughter is getting ready to move into a new house, and it's a hardship for her to accommodate me for quarantine," he said.
My other children live in three-room flats and have children of their own, so where will they put me?"

Even yet, quarantining at home could be dangerous.
"My grandchildren are still quite young.
I'll be sorry for the rest of my life if they get the virus from me."


Quarantine upon his return to Malaysia will be a problem because his wife suffers from chronic illnesses and his mother-in-law is elderly, but staying in a hotel is too expensive, he claimed.

"So we'll have to wait, lah...
Wait a little and see what happens (if the rules are reduced even more),” said Mr Jamaludin, a resident of Kuala Lumpur.

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