841 Malaysians stranded abroad on global restrictions

By NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / Pic By BERNAMA

ALMOST a thousand Malaysians are stranded abroad amid the government’s move to impose the Movement Control Order (MCO) which began yesterday.

According to Wisma Putra, some 841 Malaysians are stranded in 20 countries worldwide due to travel restrictions.

Deputy Foreign Minister and Covid-19 taskforce member Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar (picture) said all Malaysians who are identified to be stranded are given consular assistance by Malaysian representatives abroad, including advice on temporary accommodation, alternative flight routes and other related assistance.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to inform that the Representative Offices has helped in easing the return of 116 nationals to Malaysia, whereby 113 are flying from Morocco and three from

Maldives,” he said in a statement. Other countries include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Spain and Australia. As of March 13, Wisma Putra identified 11 Malaysians abroad who were infected with Covid-19, with nine in Singapore, of which two were discharged and seven still undergoing treatment, and two in Japan both of whom had returned.

Wisma Putra also said a total of 274 Malaysians are stranded in India, with 73 in Delhi, 200 in Chennai and one in Mumbai as of 9am yesterday.

Locals in India can contact the Malaysian High Commission in New Delhi at +91 11 2415 9300 or email [email protected]; the Malaysian Consulate General in Chennai at (91 44) 2433 4434/35/36 or [email protected]; and the Malaysian Consulate General in Mumbai at 00 9122 2645 5751/52/55 or [email protected]

Similarly, two Malaysians were stuck in Maldives due to AirAsia Bhd cancelling its flight.

Facebook user Syahril Mazlan posted that his cousins who were stranded in Maldives returned with the help of the Malaysian embassy in Sri Lanka.

“They got back via Singapore Airlines today, and if it wasn’t for that, we’d have been more worried. Thank you Wisma Putra team,” he said.

Meanwhile, for foreign travellers stuck in transit in Malaysia include French who were refused access to Turkish Airlines planes to exit the country.

France tweeted that many French who are in transit at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) have been refused access to their return flights despite valid tickets.

“Left stranded at KLIA airport and refused entry. This is an awful situation, please help,” while tagging the Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

Similarly, it was reported that at least 250 Indians were left stranded in KLIA after entry of flights from Malaysia were banned to contain the outbreak.

As of yesterday, India External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the centre has allowed an Air Asia flight from Kuala Lumpur to land in Visakhapatnam, India, despite the ban.

He tweeted that he appreciates the difficult situation of Indian students and other passengers waiting in transit at the Kuala Lumpur airport.

“We have now approved @AirAsia flights for you to Delhi and Vizag. These are tough times and you should understand precautions. Please contact the airline,” he said.

It was reported that most of the stranded Indians were students returning from the Philippines after the country’s President Rodrigo Duterte announced that non-locals should leave the country within 72 hours.

The Indian students were supposed to take a connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein clarified that under the MCO, any locals are allowed to return to the country, but are required to undergo mandatory health exami- nation and self-quarantine for 14 days upon return.

“Hopefully those who are stranded will remain calm. Although this situation is beyond our control, we must rely on the discretion of external government to give a return permission, and Wisma Putra will do as much as we can,” he said in a statement.

He also added that the Malaysian representative in India has been contacted while Wisma Putra’s Covid-19 task force is monitoring efforts that can help those looking for solutions for those who wish to return to Malaysia.