KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has promised that 270 of the 367 Malaysians stranded in Bangladesh will be brought home soon, most likely by tomorrow.
Speaking to a joint press conference with MIC president Tan Sri S. Vigneswaran, the foreign minister added that Putrajaya has made arrangements with Dhaka for a special chartered flight to bring the evacuees from the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
“As of noon today, there are 367 Malaysians recorded to reside in Bangladesh. This includes 219 students, 55 Medan Malaysia hospital staff at Coz Bazaar, 73 expatriates with their families and 20 government officers who work at the high commission and their families.
“As many as 270 Malaysians have agreed to return home for the foreseeable future but the government has requested seven civil servants to stay working at our high commission. We greatly respect and are grateful for their sacrifice,” said Hishammuddin.
The Malaysians will be brought home via a Malaysia Airlines Airbus 332. Just like the six flights which flew Malaysians stranded from India home, the Bangladeshi flight will be fully borne by the MIC party as well.
On Monday, the Bangladeshi government announced a ten-day forced leave on all sectors barring essential services to begin on March 26 and ending on April 4. This is on top of its shutdown of certain parts of its public transportation system such as rails.
Malaysia’s foreign minister also revealed that more than a thousand Malaysians left stranded in foreign countries such as Uzbekistan, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia and India among others have been successfully brought home by Wisma Putra.
This morning saw the arrival of 995 Malaysians who flew in from India. Regarding the fate of the 46 Malaysians in Iran, Hishammuddin said that government representatives are discussing with Tehran on allowing a special flight to evacuate them.
Hishammuddin also promised that his ministry will be in close contact with the Health Ministry to ensure that all screening measures will be thoroughly observed by all Malaysians brought home from overseas during this Covid-19 pandemic.
On a similar note, the Sembrong MP added that Malaysia will also be receiving assistance from China and UAE in terms of expert advice and “critical” medical equipment respectively.
“Our medical personnel from 26 hospitals will have a video conference with experts from China to find the best practices in combating Covid-19.
“We will also be receiving medical equipment from UAE,” said Hishammuddin although when asked, he only described the equipment from UAE as “critical” and that Malaysians should not be too proud to ask for help.
During the press conference, MIC chief Vigneswaran could not resist a jab at his detractors who questioned why MIC was given the privilege to sponsor the evacuation flights from India and Bangladesh.
“There are those who asked why MIC was granted the privilege to sponsor the flights. This is an emergency. In the last general election, the government received a RM200 million donation. This time we are coming forward to help.
“You shouldn’t be asking why during an emergency but instead, just come forward and help. If you didn’t offer your help, too bad. Our intention is noble and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin gave us the opportunity,” said Vigneswaran who said that the Malaysians will be flown in tomorrow.