New weekend but business as usual in JB

It was mostly business as usual in Johor Baru (JB) on Friday, marking the start of its new weekend now observed by the state government on Friday and Saturday.

Traffic along the Causeway was relatively smooth in the afternoon and evening, and shops in JB remained open as per normal.

Most private businesses there also told The Straits Times that they have opted to work on Fridays as many have links with Singapore firms.

For example, Malaysian poultry exporter Aqina Farming transports chickens to Singapore six days a week. A spokesman for the company said that it is sticking to its Monday-to-Saturday work week as "the Singapore side cannot possibly accommodate this sort of change".

Johor-based private bus service Causeway Link said that schedules for its seven-day operations would also remain unchanged - at least for now.

Its operations executive, Ms Agnes Tan, said: "We are monitoring the situation but now, it is still too early to judge how the new weekend will affect us."

Johor's return this week to observing Friday and Saturday as rest days - in accordance with the Muslim calendar - was announced on Nov 23. It came after two decades of having weekends on Saturday and Sunday.

Johorians and siblings Chew Jeng Wen, 17, and Jeng Wei, 14, used their first Friday off from school to visit their parents, who work six days a week in Singapore. This is because the family now no longer has a common rest day on Sundays.

Their 44-year-old mother works as a sales assistant, while their father, who is 49, is a household repairman.

"We will probably have to take a bus to Singapore on Fridays from now on if we want to spend some time with them in the week," said Jeng Wen as they walked towards the Johor Central bus station.

They were among several who told The Straits Times in Johor on Friday that the new weekend would take some adjusting to.

Fellow Johorian and insurance broker Juliana Arrs, 39, said the differing rest days between government offices and private business is "just confusing for residents". She said: "Normally we have time to do prayers on Fridays even with work so I prefer to keep it that way. But I guess we'll just have to get used to it."

Meanwhile, in Singapore, businesses which rely on goods imported from Johor said they are unaffected.

A spokesman for Amoy Canning, which imports canned drinks from Johor, said the new weekend "makes no difference" as "delivery can be arranged on any other day".

Supermarket chain FairPrice made similar assurances, with a spokesman adding that it would "continue to monitor the situation and work closely with our suppliers to ensure minimal disruption to our operations."

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