KUCHING, March 16 — A group of 68 Sarawakians, who were stranded in the Solomon Islands (SI) since last year after their employment contracts with logging companies ended, arrived here yesterday.

They were immediately placed under a 14-day quarantine in hotels for a Covid-19 observation.

They managed to return home after one of them contacted state Minister of Transport Datuk Lee Kim Shin for assistance.

Lee said the group departed SI yesterday and arrived at Kuching International Airport the same day on a chartered Solomon Airlines flight.


“With the assistance of the Consulate of Malaysia in Honiara, the Solomon Islands, a chartered Solomon Airlines’ direct flight was arranged to fly the 68 stranded Sarawakians from Honiara International Airport,” Lee said in a statement.

He added they had worked for different logging companies in SI and wanted to return to Malaysia as their employment contracts finished last year.

“One of them called me when they encountered problems for the chartered flight landing in Kuching and also their entry to Sarawak,” he said.


Lee said he immediately requested his ministry’s officers to coordinate with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) on the validation of the Foreign Aircraft Operator Certificate (FAOC) for the chartered flight to fly directly to Kuching from SI.

He said he also coordinated with the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) to ensure approval was granted for their entry into Sarawak.

He said apart from being ordered into isolation, the 68 were also swabbed for Covid-19 in accordance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by SDMC.