IPOH, March 27 ― A total of 3,468 Malaysian citizens are still stranded at 61 countries due to the travelling restriction measures imposed by respective countries following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar said that the number have increased as compared to yesterday's information where only 2,982 Malaysian citizens were reported to have stranded in 55 countries.
The increase, Kamarudin said is because more Malaysian have registered as “stranded” at the Malaysian Embassy in Chennai, India.
“Wisma Putra is working hard to solve this situation and cooperating with various parties to bring back Malaysian who stranded abroad,” he said in a press conference streamed live on Wisma Putra’s Facebook page today.
Kamaruddin stressed that the “stranded” here is referring to those who went abroad for work matters, family matters, and vacations.
“They have flight tickets to return back to Malaysia, but could not do so due to travel ban or the flight cancellation from airline companies due to Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
He said that many countries have declared “lockdown” thus the Malaysian government needs to negotiate with the respective governments to get flight landing approval.
“Some negotiations have shown positive results due to the good relationship we have with them, but still some delayed because of the domestic issue there.
“In some countries, no commercial flights were allowed to fly in and back. Even if we managed to get the flight landing approval, we still need to find special rental aircraft,” he explained.
“However, despite the limited allocation, we managed to get help from private companies and associations, which includes MIC and T7 Global Berhad, who fund the rent for the aircraft,” he added.
He also stressed that Wisma Putra has never practiced any discrimination in the repatriation process as to how it was spread in the social media.
“For instance, in Nepal, when we heard there are 37 Malaysian stranded, we immediately ordered the Malaysian Embassy in Kathmandu to provide consular aid,” he said.
Kamaruddin also said that all Malaysian representatives abroad are ordered to conduct Covid-19 crisis situation evaluation every day at their respective countries and report it to the Malaysian citizen who is stranded.
“These include the risks on whether they need to come back to Malaysia or vice versa,” he said.
He also said that Wisma Putra is working hard to get an additional allocation of more than RM19 million to bring those stranded in the countries where there are no commercial flights at all.
“However, this does not apply to those who stranded in United States and United Kingdom as both countries still allow commercial flights.
“Therefore, I urge those who are at there to return as soon as possible before the countries enforce travel ban and flight cancellation. I also advice them to register at the Malaysian Embassy there to get the necessary help,” he said.