On the 17th of March after having supper with my wife and daughter, I came back home to a shocking announcement made by the Prime Minister on the implementation of a nationwide Movement Control Order (MCO). At first, I thought this could be a rash decision but quickly came to understand that it was a good measure to contain the spread of the worldwide pandemic caused by the Coronavirus or Covid-19.
This however led me to uncertainty on what’s going to happen to the daily commuters who earn a living working in Singapore and staying in Malaysia. Does the MCO apply to work permit and student pass holders? Moments before midnight my employer gave instructions to report to work as per normal unless stopped by Malaysian immigration. It did not shed much light on the situation, but I told my wife that chances are high that I might need to stay in Singapore, away from my family for the next 14 days. This was a very difficult decision to make as my wife is 5-months pregnant and we have a 16-month old daughter to care for as well. We had to quickly come up with a contingency plan as pregnancy comes with its own set of worries at a time like this.
The next day I received a call from my Head of Department asking about my accommodation arrangements. He informed me that the school that I’m working for as a Desktop Engineer is making arrangements for us Malaysians working there. Later that day, I was told to pack my belongings and report to work as soon as possible.
After getting the call, I quickly went to buy groceries, milk powder and diapers to sustain for the next 2 weeks. I hurried back after that, packed my clothing and rushed off to cross the border. Didn’t have time to say goodbye to my daughter who was with the sitter. The sitter was kind enough to send her daughter to stay with my wife during the MCO period. My wife put up a brave front as she bid me farewell while wiping away the tears discreetly. Nothing much I could say besides ‘take care’.
After a few hours crossing the causeway bridge to Singapore, I was brought to a boarding facility provided by my employers. I was informed that SGD50 dollars will be given to aid our stay here in Singapore. It was a comforting but the thought of not being with family during this troubled time made me sombre.
The accommodation provided was decent with two-beds, a TV and WiFi. I was relieved that I don’t have to go through the trouble of finding a place to stay on my own which some of my friends had to do while some had to opt to go on unpaid leave. I also learned that some who were unable to secure accommodation resorted to finding shelter at MRT stations and other public places.
On the 19th of March, I was informed not to report to work for reasons unknown. I was also moved to another living quarters. Thanks to the WiFi availability, I can make video calls to my family. Apart from that, I have nothing much to do and I’m not sure about how things are going to go about for the remaining of my stay here.