SINGAPORE, April 1 — What a relief! This is what thousands of Malaysians must have felt on April 1 after being stranded in Singapore for more than two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s April 1 today and the borders between Malaysia and Singapore are finally open.
As early as 11 pm of March 31, thousands of vehicles were seen queuing at the entrance of the Woodlands Checkpoint including those with Singapore number plates heading to Malaysia. Also hundreds of Malaysians were waiting to walk to across the Causeway to get back home.
Many could not believe that the day they have been waiting for so long has finally come. Even the most pessimistic were sure that the opening of the borders were no April fools’ day prank.
How I wished I could join the exodus during the wee hours crossing the Causeway. Though I could not cover all the excitement alone, my Malaysian friends were there to capture for Bernama their respective moments crossing the Causeway on foot, motorbikes and cars.
The short journey is a memorable one for most people making the exodus. Visuals shared by friends showed the emotions and how grateful many felt for the day that they have been waiting for.
A friend shared a visual of a guy prostrating in gratitude at one intersection, probably he is returning home for the first time after more than two years.
Some played the song ‘Balik Kampung’ by the late Sudirman Hj Arshad in the car while crawling in the traffic jam. One of the friends also informed me that hundreds of Malaysians who walked across the Causeway sang ‘Negaraku’ upon reaching the mid point.
For Bernama TV producer Azura Mokhtar, seeing all the videos appended to be used for ‘Bernama Koresponden Program’, the atmosphere appeared like Merdeka celebration.
I do hope the readers of this article out there will browse all of Bernama’s social media platforms to watch the priceless moments of ‘Anak Malaysia’ welcoming the opening of the land border between Malaysia and Singapore exactly at 12 midnight Thursday.
Despite of the huge number of people waiting to cross, its was a relatively smooth journey. Sharing their experiences using three modes of travelling, most stated that it is a smooth journey for them today especially at the immigration booths of both sides.
“Just handed in my passport to be checked and in a minute I was ready to go home to my family,” said one of them.
Some Immigration officers in fact greeted the returnees by wishing ‘Selamat Pulang’ (welcome home), and a huge electronic advertisement board at the the edge of the Causeway also greeted Malaysians with the colourful message ‘Welcome Home’.
As for myself I’m happy to remain here but at the same time feel sad as I might not see many of Malaysian friends that frequent anymore as they will be commuting daily across the Causeway from now. We all have been here bracing the pandemic together without realising we have build a strong bond.
Apart from land border connection with Thailand; Kalimantan, Indonesia and Brunei, Malaysia’s land link with Singapore is said to be among the busiest land routes in the world before the outbreak of the COVID-19.
It was reported that about 400,000 people used the route every day before the pandemic started.