Malaysian students to walk to Singapore as semester begins

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The empty Causeway as seen from a HDB flat in Marsiling on July 26, 2020. The Star/Asia News Network/GAVIN FOO

JOHOR BARU — Malaysians studying at Singapore universities are expected to walk across the Causeway over the next few weeks as the universities resume their semester this month.

National University of Singapore (NUS) student Ivan Chong will be returning to Singapore at the start of his semester.

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“A majority of my friends have decided to go back to Singapore at a later date and continue with online classes or defer their semester until the border reopens,” the 20-year-old said.

“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,” he said, adding that he would only know more details about the quarantine, such as the venue, by Sunday (Aug 2).

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“Most of the classes will still be conducted online, and only classes with a maximum of 50 people are allowed. I have decided to go back, as I do not want to miss out on classes or assignments,” said Mr Chong.

According to the Singapore government website gov.sg, all incoming travelers are required to serve a 14-day stay-home notice.

Since the movement control order was enforced, no vehicles other than trucks have been allowed to cross the Singapore-Malaysia border, he said.

“Hence, we will have to walk across the Causeway for 1km, bringing along our luggage. This is the second time I am walking. The first time was when I returned to Johor Baru after Singapore announced its circuit breaker,” he said.

Mr Eugene Chong, 19, who will also be starting his semester at NUS, said he looked forward to the next phase of his student life despite the circumstances.

“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.

“It may not be ideal, but I have no other choice,” said Mr Chong, who had paid $1,500 for his two-week quarantine before starting classes again.

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“I am unsure when I can come back to visit my parents once I leave Malaysia,” he added.

Meanwhile, Nanyang Technological University student Justin Seow, 25, said some of his classmates would also be coming back this month.

“I decided to remain in Singapore and will only return to Johor Baru when the border reopens completely.

“Most of my classmates who are now in Malaysia have decided to remain there for the time being, but some will walk across the Causeway to return this month,” he said.

Mr Seow hopes that Malaysia and Singapore can provide shuttle service for those who really need to cross the border, especially students.

Since both countries imposed travel restrictions, many people have been seen walking across the Causeway with bags.

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