Flow of goods, food supplies will continue during Malaysia lockdown: PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a televised message on the novel coronavirus situation. (PHOTO: Ministry of Communications and Information)
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. (PHOTO: Ministry of Communications and Information)

SINGAPORE — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has received assurance from his Malaysian counterpart Muhyiddin Yassin that the flow of goods and cargo between Singapore and Malaysia – including food supplies – would continue during Malaysia’s two-week Movement Control Order period.

In a post put up on his Facebook page on Tuesday (17 March), Lee said he had discussed the situation with Muhyiddin on the phone, and told him that he understood the reasons behind the lockdown to combat the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and wished Malaysia success in containing the pandemic.

Commuting Malaysians have to comply with lockdown

He said in his Facebook post that he was not surprised at the move, as many other countries around the world have already imposed similar lockdowns.

“I was happy to hear his reassurance that the flow of goods and cargo between Singapore and Malaysia, including food supplies, would continue,” Lee wrote in his post.

“However, Malaysians living in Johor but working in Singapore will have to comply with the Malaysian lockdown. This will prevent them from commuting daily, at least for the time being.

“We are therefore working out arrangements with our companies to help these Malaysian workers stay in Singapore temporarily, if they would like to do so.”

Both Prime Ministers also agreed to appoint Senior Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Ismail Sabri to coordinate the two countries’ responses to the pandemic, especially on measures in which they can work together or where the actions of one country will affect the other.

“They are already in touch, but it may take a couple of days for arrangements to be worked out and to settle down,” Lee wrote in his Facebook post.

PM Lee happy at supermarket situation

Meanwhile, Lee said he is happy to see that, while the queues are longer than usual in Singapore’s supermarkets, people are “taking it in their stride and only buying what they need”.

“We need not worry, as we have prepared for such an eventuality, and have plans in place to cope,” he wrote. “Glad that Singaporeans are calm, united and resilient as we solve the problems at hand.”

Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing had earlier on Tuesday reassured the public that Singapore has “more than three months’ worth” of stockpile in essential carbohydrates needs such as rice and noodles, as well as “more than two months’ worth of supplies in meat and vegetables.

On Monday, Muhyiddin announced a two-week lockdown of Malaysia to slow the spread of the coronavirus, following a sharp spike in the number of cases.

Malaysians will not be allowed to travel overseas, and all foreign visitors will be banned. All Malaysians returning from overseas will have to self-quarantine for 14 days.

All religious institutions, schools, businesses and government offices will also be shut, all mass gatherings will be banned and only essential services including supermarkets, banks, gas stations and pharmacies will be allowed to remain open.

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