Students living in Malaysia scrambling to come here amid lockdown
Those who commute to and from S'pore scrambling before M'sia closes borders
With Malaysia starting a national lockdown from today until March 31, students who commute to and from Singapore have been racing against time to make their way here.
Secondary 4 student Chan Xin Yao said that he had only a few hours yesterday morning to pack his necessities and make his way here.
The 16-year-old Malaysian, who has been studying here since he was seven, will be staying with relatives in Sembawang during the lockdown period.
He was still busy packing in his Johor Baru home when he spoke to The New Paper over the phone at noon yesterday.
"The news came as a shock, everything seemed so sudden. I am scrambling to pack all my school books, clothes and belongings," he said.
"I have to leave after lunch to make my way to Singapore before the lockdown starts."
Malaysia announced the two-week lockdown on Monday night as the number of coronavirus infections surged after a mass religious gathering at a mosque on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.
At a press conference to announce measures to help employers here find temporary accommodation for their Malaysian workers, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said students and other people who commute daily should be able to make arrangements themselves.
"Many of them have family, have friends, have relatives on both sides of the Causeway, so they will know how to make adjustments on their own," said Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry taskforce.
An undergraduate who wanted to be known only as Ms Laila said the Causeway was congested by 7.30am yesterday.
The 26-year-old, who commutes daily from JB by public bus, said: "There were limited buses in JB, and then I was stuck in traffic for about an hour."
Another student, Mr Sharul Sungkono, 22, had to call his family in JB for help after he realised he would not be able to return home this weekend.
The Singaporean, who has been living in JB for the last eight years, attends classes here from Monday to Thursday and returns to JB for the weekend.
"I don't have enough belongings here, so my parents and siblings are on the way to Singapore with clothes that can last me for at least another month," he said.
"We have relatives to stay with, but my family thought of booking a week-long staycation at a hotel here for a family getaway. We might as well make the best out of the situation."
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: DAVID SUN