COVID-19: Brunei helps Malaysians’ tourists, elderly to return home

by Theleaders-Online | March 27, 2020 8:00 am

KUALA LUMPUR: The Brunei government has agreed to allow some of the Malaysians stranded in Cairo, to board its aircraft, which is scheduled to leave Egypt tomorrow, to return home, in line with the repatriation of its citizens from the country.

Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar said, the decision was reached through communications between Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Brunei’s Minister of Foreign Affair II yesterday.

“The Malaysian Embassy in Cairo is in close communication with the Brunei Embassy in Cairo on this repatriation plan.

“To date, 86 Malaysians are reported to be stranded in Cairo, Egypt. However, due to the limited capacity of the Brunei aircraft, only 51 Malaysians are allowed to board the flight,” he said, in a live media conference through Wisma Putra official Facebook on the latest development of the repatriation process of Malaysians overseas.

Kamarudin said priority would be given to the elderly and tourists to return home.

The flight is expected to arrive in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, at 8.40am this Sunday.

He also expressed Malaysians’ gratitude to the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah for allowing the 51 Malaysians to board the flight sent by Brunei.

Kamaruddin added that Wisma Putra is looking into more information on the next course of action once they arrive in Brunei.

Meanwhile, he said to date, the number of Malaysians stranded overseas has increased to 3,468 in 61 countries.

He said the number is growing, with a drastic increase of Malaysian registering at the Malaysian Embassy in Chennai, India.

He said Wisma Putra is working hard to resolve the situation and cooperating with various parties to bring them back to Malaysia.

“Some Malaysians happen to be abroad for work, a family business or on vacation. They had the tickets, but could not return due to travel restrictions or airlines cancelling flights, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Please note that the effort to bring them back is not easy. We need to overcome some challenges and obstacles. Firstly, many countries have imposed a nation lockdown following the outbreak,” he said.

He also explained about the need to consult with the government of the countries involved to obtain approval for flight landings.

He said negotiations with most governments had reached the desired outcome as Malaysia has a good relationship with many countries.

“However, some negotiations, particularly on domestic issues of the country would take time. The second issue is commercial aircraft are not allowed to fly in or out from some countries,” he said.

Kamarudin then explained that in this situation, even if Malaysia obtained the landing permit, there is the need to use specially chartered aircraft.

He said although the government has a limited allocation to bring back those stranded overseas, some organisations have assisted in funding some of the specially chartered flights including MIC and T7 Global Berhad.

Bernama

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