Missing each other so very, very much!

In March 2020, when Malaysia imposed a border-closing between Malaysia and Singapore, Malaysians who work in Singapore had to make the difficult decision on whether to stay in Johor Baru or in Singapore.

A participant sending a message to her loved
one at the recent Miss You My Love event
Even way past midnight on March 17, many rushed to enter the island republic in a human exodus – mostly on foot across the causeway – because the border between Singapore and Malaysia would be closed with effect from March 18.

While these Malaysians reached Singapore safely, they never anticipated that this separation from their families in JB would be for months and now, almost a year.

Even though they may yearn for the company of their loved ones back in JB, many have opted to stay on the island as they were the main providers for their families and could not afford to lose their jobs.


This family designed their own poster with
a poignant message, "I miss you Daddy"
The border crossing in the South, between Malaysia and Singapore is among the busiest in the world and for more than seven months since March, the causeway that links the two nations, was virtually clear of any vehicles.

It was after more than 200 days of the border closing that travel restrictions were slightly relaxed for more trucks and vans to transport food and essential items to the island republic and for some people with approved travel permits to commute.

The sudden outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the border closing early this year changed everything, not just within families but also for the local economy.

The R&F Princess Cove yacht with families
 on board, waving to loved ones in Singapore
It was unprecedented that the Singapore-Johor Baru border had to be closed for so long and for the first time in modern history, the daily commute was impossible.

It was normal for Singaporeans to cross the causeway at preferred times of the day or night to visit JB for food, shopping, and entertainment, undeterred by the traffic congestion and long queues.

The people of Johor and Singapore have co-existed for generations, many with family and friends who live on both sides of the causeway and they would meet regularly by simply crossing the causeway.

With the border closing, all this came to a standstill.

Waving and send much love!
It was good that the use of modern devices allowed people to stay in constant touch through video calls and chats. But as the period of separation increased, the longing to see each other again in person, also increased.

This longing was so acute for some people that they arranged to “see” each other, positioned at specific spots on the Johor coast across to the Singapore coast in Woodlands.

Online news about these “meet-ups” by families desperate to see each other again, soon went viral. In JB, many stood at the edge of the R&F open carpark next to the coast or at the R&F promenade.

And when Richard Hu, Chairman of R&F Malaysia, observed that the families chose strategic spots along the R&F property at Tanjung Puteri to look across to their loved ones standing at Woodlands on the Singapore coastline, he was deeply moved.

Waving and displaying their
message on a poster
Richard then proposed that R&F offered the use of the Princess Cove yacht to ferry the families out on the Johor Straits for a closer view of their loved ones in Woodlands.

“It was so heart-breaking when I read the news that many families were forced to be separated,” said Richard who initiated this precious reunion event, organised by R&F Princess Cove.

Richard then discussed with his team on ways to help the families and how to create the opportunity to let them “meet” each other in person again.

“This is the least we can do, to offer the use our yacht to let the family members meet each other at the closest distance possible instead of virtually through video-calls on devices. Nothing can be compared to seeing each other in person,” he added.

Looking closer by using binoculars
R&F Princess Cove posted the info about their event dubbed, Miss You My Love, on Facebook on Oct 20 along with an invitation for families to participate, and they received more than 150 responses within the same day.  

These families in Johor, who had been longing to meet their loved ones stranded in Singapore for the past months, jumped at the opportunity to see them again from the yacht that will sail on the Johor Straits for a closer view of the Singapore coast.

Due to the overwhelming response, R&F Princess Cove arranged for four trips on the yacht as only a limited number of passengers could board the yacht at one time.

This child is looking closer,
using a pair of binoculars
On Oct 24, the R&F Princess Cove yacht was specially decorated with a banner with the words, Miss You, My Love! emblazoned on it so that it could be easy to spot from Woodlands on the Singapore side.

Some 20 people, representing 10 families here took their turns to board the R&F Princess Cove yacht and headed out to the boundary of the Johor Straits, believed to be the closest possible point for them to “meet” their family members who were stranded in Singapore.

As the yacht cruised towards this point for their much-anticipated moment, all the pent-up emotion broke loose. It was just surreal – being so near and yet so far.

Some couples who had been apart for so long, just looked at each other in awe and silence while the kids shouted and called to their parents/father/mother whom they finally saw in person again after seven months of separation.

Some families held up their hand-written messages and drawings to express their love and longing. And there was not a dry eye on board.

Those on the Singapore side waving posters
to acknowledge the messages from loved ones
 on the R&F Princess Cove yacht, in the Johor Straits
Due to the border regulations, the yacht was not permitted to hover for too long.

Then it was a painful parting again as families and friends reluctantly waved farewell to each other from afar, while their heavy hearts eagerly anticipated the actual reunion, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

Thank you ever so much, Richard and the team at R&F Princess Cove, for your thoughtful gesture which means such a great deal to the members of these families who are missing each other so very, very much.

The R&F Mall and R&F Princess Cove, a property development that overlooks the Straits of Johor, is located at Jalan Tanjung Puteri, 80300 Johor Baru, Johor.

Photo Credits: Courtesy of R&F Princess Cove

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