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Zulkarnain Muhamed resides in Johor Bahru but works across the border in Singapore. The ship husbandry supervisor's daily commute is a familiar one for thousands of Malaysians, who take advantage of Singapore's higher wages and the southern Malaysian city's lower cost of living.
But the coronavirus pandemic has upended his life. Since Malaysia closed its borders amid a nationwide lockdown in mid-March, Zulkarnain has been living out of a Singapore hotel. He cannot see his young family, and his monthly living expenses have increased by about 6,000 ringgit ($1,380). A petition calling on Malaysia's government to work with Singapore on a solution that would allow daily crossings now has over 25,000 signatories.