Many Malaysians have reportedly been rendered homeless in Singapore, due to the border closure between the two countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the New Straits Times (NST), hundreds of Malaysians are sleeping on the roadside or on public benches, bathing in public toilets and survive on instant noodles daily, or even sometimes go hungry, to save money.

The vagrant-like lifestyle is due to the high cost of living in the city-state as well as paycuts from their employers and regulations set by the latter, which has forced the workers to remain in Singapore, despite the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) facility to return to Malaysia, said the report.

Among the strict regulations that puts off most Malaysians from returning home is the 14-day mandatory quarantine upon returning to Malaysia, despite them having only such periods of leave, and another round of quarantine when they return to Singapore from Malaysia, the report added.

The daily spoke to Shahruddin Haeal Helmy Mohd Noh, 34, a worker at a beverage company in Singapore, who claimed that the pandemic had left over 100 Malaysians living in Singapore, homeless, as they could not afford to rent a room or a bed, which can cost up to S$1,200 (RM3,660), and S$500 (RM1,525), respectively.

Such high accommodation rates are out of reach for most Malaysians, who already have to contend with up RM100 daily on food on transportation daily, he said.

"Some of us are only left with S$100 (RM304) to last for a month, after sending about S$700 (RM2,134) for families in Malaysia and S$300 (RM915) for bed rental," Shahruddin was quoted saying.

Despite the harsh conditions, many Malaysians have decided to stay put in Singapore, as their the sole breadwinners of the family, he said.

Another factor that puts off Malaysians from returning home is the high cost they have to fork out for COVID-19 testing and quarantine upon return, he added.

To make the situation worse, the majority of families of the affected Malaysian workers are not aware of the latter's situation, according to Shahruddin.

"They are keeping mum to allay worry among their families back home. These people are willing to work hard and go hungry for their families."

Shahruddin opined that the problem could be resolved only when the Johor-Singapore border is reopened for daily commute.

Source: NST
Photo source: NST/Gilbert Goh FB page