We left Singapore last Thursday. 

It had to be by land crossing if we wanted to abide by a newly signed agreement between Kuala Lumpur and the Republic.  

So, we decided to drive home by way of the Tuas crossing. 

At the Malaysian checkpoint, we both had to download the My Sejahtera app and, numerous questions later, followed a pleasant, female Immigration official to the medical tent where a guy decked out in full PPE regalia sat awaiting us. The poor guy: it must have been at least 32 degrees in the shade and for all that, he was remarkably good natured. 

He took two swabs from each of us: one from the throat and the other, from deep within our noses. For each, he had to change gloves. 

No wonder Top Glove shares are rocketing. 

The official said the tests would come back in 2-3 days and we would be quarantined for the duration. For the record, the tests cost RM200 each.  

Since we’d asked for a hotel, the only one serving as a place of quarantine was a KSL Hot Springs Resort in Johore Bahru.

It turned out to be in Tebrau and the “Hot Springs” business may have been in the copywriter’s imagination. In any case, we signed some forms, paid the deposit and were promptly locked up in a room on the 9th floor. 

There was a chair placed immediately outside the door. Our meals, towels etc, were placed on said chair after which the doorbell would be rung. It was like getting to know your food, Pavlov-style. 

The two days that passed were interminable and I shudder to think how it would have been had we attempted an earlier crossing and undergone the whole two-week quarantine. 

At 11.30 am on Saturday, we received a call from the authorities telling us we’d tested negative and could leave. Even so, we had to take our temperatures and answer a series of questions on our My Sejahtera apps every day for the next two weeks. We were free to go but it was made clear to us that we would be “under surveillance” for a fortnight. 

As is her wont, Rebecca turned out to be a minor celebrity there and, after we’d signed the necessary paperwork, everyone including the cops and the immigration authorities wanted to take pictures with her. 

As is my wont, I stood off to the side and, sure enough, no one noticed! I only wonder if anyone found it ironic that everyone in the pictures was masked.  

There were about 30 of us quarantined in the hotel and while we never met, we were placed in a single WhatsApp chat group which my wife kept track of. 

One of the guys, Fahmi was back from Singapore because his father was critically sick. On his first night of quarantine, unfortunately, his father died. He had to wait another day before he was found negative and allowed to go. 

It’s nice to be home and even the traffic isn’t as irritating as it used to be. The My Sejahtera app is also a distinct improvement on the one we had to use in Singapore. It’s faster and more efficient with much more common-sensical usage. Example: in Singapore, you have to both check-in and out while it’s just one way here.  

Everything’s ok except the politics and the new government which I believe the majority of us did not vote for. That sucks big-time. 


My friend and former high school mate, Michael, sent me a WhatsApp message entitled “The Hoarse Whisperer on Twitter” yesterday morning. 

It got my immediate attention. 

It was clearly a play on The Horse Whisperer – the movie in which Robert Redford plays a sympathetic horse trainer – and meant to be funny. I wasn’t disappointed: it showed a guy – presumably the old HW playing Trump – delivering an Easter message in a drop-dead Donald voice. 

“Not a lot of people know this about Easter… It was the day when Jesus and the two Corinthians met the Easter Bunny and came back from the dead.”

“It’s a beautiful story and very important for the Christians  … So I’m announcing today that I’m going to bring back the economy on Easter Sunday.”

“Because let’s be honest here… He’s a good God and a tough One but we have to be honest… His record isn’t that great … He brought only one man back from the dead and that was His son and that makes Him a little biased … But we are gonna bring back the entire economy Easter Sunday.”

In truth, Easter (April 12 this year) celebrates the resurrection of the Christ which makes it the most important and the most holy date in the Christian calendar. Therefore, the rambling Trump impersonator sounds terribly outrageous and, therefore, utterly hilarious.  

Because to quote the Hoarse Whisperer, let’s be honest here. It’s in times like these when we need some serious comic relief. When you wake up in the morning to find out on CNN that Spain is turning to ice rinks to serve as makeshift morgues because the dead are piling up faster than they can be safely disposed of. 

When the stock markets swing so wildly that commentators begin making comparisons to wealth effects “not seen since the Great Depression.” When doctors make bland comparisons between Covid-19 and the Spanish flu of 1918 which, incidentally, killed 17-50 million people worldwide.

And Heaven help the poor family under quarantine! We currently stay in a serviced apartment in Singapore where we probably will be stuck until April the 14th at least.  Walking back this morning, however, we noticed a maid in front of us place some bags outside an apartment and walk away after ringing the apartment’s bell. 

The apartment’s door opened just as we were walking past, and we saw a child’s face framed by the door just before an adult grabbed the bags. The maid explained later that the family had just arrived the night before and so had to undergo a two-week quarantine period. 

That meant they had to do their own chores – bed-making, cleaning, etc – with sheets and everything else – toilet paper, for instance – supplied by the apartment’s management. They would be watched 24/7 by closed circuit television and all meals would have to be ordered. 

And they could not step out on pain of punishment. That was strict quarantine for you, and we shuddered at the thought. Not unlike jail time if you think about it. 

I’d say that family could use some laughs.

Wouldn’t you?