Ex-Singapore 'keeper Effendy to be apart from family in Malaysia for Hari Raya amid MCO
Ex-Singapore goalkeeper Effendy to spend Hari Raya away from Malaysia-based wife and daughter due to circumstances caused by Covid-19 control measures
Hari Raya Aidilfitri is usually a joyous time for former national goalkeeper Effendy Subtu.
But not this year, as he will be spending it away from his wife and daughter for the first time.
The 43-year-old, who has been based in Malaysia for nine years, has been away from wife Ainumira Sarjat, a 39-year-old Malaysian, and daughter Dania Sumayyah, 12, for about two months due to circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
His ordeal began on March 18, when he was due to fly back to Selangor from Vietnam.
Effendy, who was in the national team in the late 1990s, had travelled to Ho Chi Minh City on March 14 with former teammates from the Milo Soccer School for their yearly catch-up trip, where they played some friendly matches.
When he was due to fly back to Malaysia, Effendy claims that Vietnamese customs officials did not allow him to board the plane because he was not a Malaysian citizen, despite him holding a long-term social visit pass.
That same day, Malaysia had initiated the movement control order (MCO) to fight the Covid-19 outbreak.
Unable to return home, Effendy flew back to Singapore, where he has remained since, living in his parents' apartment in Jurong West.
He told The New Paper: "(The customs officials in Vietnam) did not let me onto my Malaysia Airlines flight because of the lockdown.
"(They) saw that I had a Singapore passport, so they didn't let me board. I showed them my long-term social visit pass and my IC, which also had my Malaysian address, but it didn't work.
"So, I had to come back to Singapore. Later on, when I checked with my friend who works in Malaysia's Customs (Department), he told me I should have been able to come back, but the Vietnamese customs officials probably didn't know that."
Effendy returned to Singapore and served a 14-day stay-home notice. He had planned to return to Selangor on May 4, when Singapore's circuit breaker measures were due to be lifted. But on April 21, the circuit breaker period was extended to June 1.
Singaporean citizens holding a Malaysian long-term social visit pass are allowed to leave the country during the circuit breaker period, should they receive approval from the Malaysian High Commission in Singapore.
Having found a temporary job here, Effendy has made the tough decision to stay in Singapore so that he can provide for his family, rather than return home to Malaysia and spend Hari Raya with them on Sunday.
Department of Statistics Malaysia's chief statistician last week said the MCO has caused unemployment to spike to 3.9 per cent, the highest in a decade.
In Malaysia, Effendy owns the Great Soccer Academy and dessert shop Cendol Gerek Seyy.
The youth academy, which has over 200 students, remains shuttered due to coronavirus control measures, while the dessert shop reopened earlier this month after Malaysia transitioned to a conditional MCO on May 4.
Effendy's wife, a finance manager, is helping out with the running of the dessert shop.
Effendy, meanwhile, has been working for a shipping company since early last month, packing and delivering groceries and supplies to shipping vessels.
He said: "At least here, I can do something. If I go back, I can't do anything because my main job is my football academy.
"And I will also have to serve another two-week quarantine at a quarantine centre away from my family."
When asked how he is coping being away from his family, Effendy said: "Every day, I video-call my wife and daughter.
"My daughter sometimes starts crying and asks me, 'When are you coming back, Papa?'
"I'm very close to her. She video-calls me five or six times a day to ask me what I'm doing or if I have been fasting... This will be my first Hari Raya away from her."