Malaysian workers in the service sector were the worst hit, affecting 11,123 people
pic by BLOOMBERG
THE number of Malaysians who have lost their jobs in Singapore between January and July this year stood at 15,666, official data showed as the virus lockdown in the city-state hit the labour market.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan, in a recent parliamentary reply, said statistics by the Malaysian High Commission in Singapore indicated that Malaysian workers in the service sector were the worst hit, affecting 11,123 people.
This is followed by the manufacturing sector with 3,604 workers and construction with 939 workers. The minister was responding to Senator Liew Chin Tong’s inquiry on the number of Malaysians working in Singapore who have lost their jobs following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Saravanan said the figure, however, did not include workers who have yet to return to Singapore since the Movement Control Order (MCO) took effect on March 18.
Malaysia closed its borders after a surge in Covid-19 cases in March, while Singapore went into partial lockdown and circuit breaker measures on April 7, forcing more Malaysians to return home.
Following months of restriction and successes in containing the disease, both governments agreed to partially reopen their borders from Aug 17 under the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) and the Reciprocal Green Lane (RCL) schemes.
Foreign Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and his Singapore counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan met at the halfway mark of the Causeway on July 26 in a symbolic gesture of the agreement by both countries to reopen their borders. Thousands of workers on both sides have since crossed the Causeway for work.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba earlier this month said more than 3,000 people have entered Malaysia from Singapore through the PCA and RCL schemes.
He said 815 people have travelled into the country via the RGL, while another 2,647 through the PCA.
The PCA allows Singaporean and Malaysian citizens or permanent residents who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country to enter that country for work.
Meanwhile, the RGL is for Malaysia and Singapore residents keen to do shorter-term travel of up to 14 days, for essential business and official purposes.
Dr Adham said both governments are now considering reopening the Malaysia-Singapore border for daily commutes.
The plan to reopen the border came after pressure from the public, whose livelihood had been affected by the closures.
“The extension of the Recovery MCO until December is a crucial period for the ministry to determine the best time to allow the opening of the border for daily commuters.
“During this period, we will be able to assess and acquire valuable input from both countries, including methods to reduce Covid-19 infection,” the minister said.
His ministry is also planning to double the number of swab tests conducted over the RGL and PCA schemes.
Currently, 2,000 swab tests are carried out daily under the PCA scheme and 400 under the RGL scheme.