Singapore – In response to the news that Malaysians studying at Singapore universities would have to walk across the Causeway as the semester resumes, a netizen has called for empathy, requesting, “Don’t block us from passing through.”
Over the next few weeks, students returning to Singapore for the semester are expected to walk through the 1,056-metre Causeway linking Johor Baru in Malaysia to the town of Woodlands in Singapore, reported straitstimes.com on Saturday (August 1). Featured in the article were a couple of students who illustrated their current situation. “This is the second time I’m walking the Causeway,” shared National University of Singapore (NUS) student Ivan Chong. “We will have to walk for 1km, bringing along our luggage,” he confirmed. Mr Chong added that a majority of his friends decided to return to Singapore at a later date and would continue with online classes or defer the semester until the border reopens. “This is because we have to pay about $1,000 to be quarantined for two weeks in Singapore before being allowed to go back to class.”
Another NUS student, Eugene Chong, said, “This will be my first semester at the university. Instead of having my parents around, I will have to go there on my own and carry my own luggage across the Causeway.” The student had paid S$1,500 for his two-week quarantine, noting “it may not be ideal, but I have no other choice.” Meanwhile, Nanyang Technological University student Justin Seow hopes that Singapore and Malaysia could implement an alternative such as a shuttle service for those who really need to cross the border.
Due to the travel restrictions imposed between the two countries, it is not uncommon to spot people crossing the Causeway with bags or luggage in hand.
Facebook user Norzan responded to the news requesting for empathy and compassion to be extended to those who “have built their lives through the customs.” The Independent Singapore reached out to the individual and learned that Norzan, a Singaporean, lived in Johor Baru but had to rush back to Singapore due to Malaysia’s Movement Control Order and Singapore’s Circuit Breaker period. The rushed return left them without a place to stay as their flat in Singapore was being leased. Norzan and her mom are currently living with her brother and his family.
In her comment, Norzan mentioned that families have been separated and urged for a more understanding approach regarding border controls. As someone who shares the plight of others affected by the situation, she wrote, “You can’t deny that JB and Singapore are simply interconnected, and you have been cruel to shut it down. We had no preparations for the lockdown, and we’re separated from our homes and loved ones for months.” She noted “it’s been far too long and that Covid is a part of our lives now.”
The concerned citizen explained that people are willing to adhere to safety protocols, “but don’t block us from passing through.” She mentioned the lack of social distancing in places such as malls and public transport and questioned the difference with those who wish to cross the border. “It’s not like we plan on going shopping or anything. We simply want to be with our loved ones in this difficult period…meet them once in a few weeks and check if our house is still safe,” she added.
In her plea, Norzan asked for both governments to look into the matter, “as there are many ways to overcome this.” Read her full comment below:
Others agreed with the statement and shared the same sentiments, although they admitted that countries “had the right to protect their own people and country first.”