Bintulu MP calls for more KL-BTU flights to resuscitate stalled economy due to Covid-19

Tiong King Sing

KUCHING, May 5: Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing today urged the Ministry of Transport to increase the flight frequency between Bintulu and Kuala Lumpur due to the high volume of passengers.

Additionally, he also urged the ministry to provide more details regarding such flights.

“Although flights between Kuala Lumpur and Bintulu have resumed operating once a week, it is based on unrealistic considerations of the economic situation. The number of flights should be adjusted according to local economic activities and movement of people, without causing a more severe blow to the battered economy.

“Furthermore, the public has no way of knowing the actual date of the flights, while the relevant airlines have not made clear the channels with which the people can confirm such flight details. Everything is in a haze and transparency needs to be enhanced,” Tiong said in a statement issued here today.

He pointed out that travellers doing business between the two places will face many obstacles due to the seemingly haphazard flight schedule.

“Sarawak’s Minister of Transport Datuk Lee Kim Shin should be the first to realise the importance of ensuring Bintulu’s rapid development seen in recent years for the whole of Sarawak and even Malaysia.

“In Bintulu’s unique economic landscape, the logistics industry especially has long attracted many foreign companies to invest in factories while huge volumes of foreign and human capital flow in. These professionals all need to travel between Bintulu and Kuala Lumpur frequently.

“Many containers also need to be moved frequently to ensure that supplies flow in and out smoothly. If the number of flights is so drastically reduced, Sarawak’s economic revenues and people’s incomes will continue to suffer,” said Tiong.

Tiong, who is also special trade envoy to China and Bintulu MP, stated that he understood that the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee aimed to protect the health and life of all Malaysians during the pandemic.

“However, any decision should be carefully considered before being implemented. The volume of passengers is too large to accommodate only one flight per week. There is also a high risk of infection with more passengers concentrated on a single flight. Additionally, some 600 to 700 quarantine rooms are prepared in Bintulu area so there is ample room for isolating measures to contain any outbreak,” he said.

Tiong asserted that it was unwise to drastically reduce the number of flights from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to Bintulu Airport and urged that it should be left to the airport personnel to develop a complete audit of passenger volumes, their whereabouts and filter the passengers based on where they might be before taking the flight.

“It is best to find a balance between both economic health and safe containment measures. Bintulu is home to no fewer than nine (9) industrial zones, the largest in Sarawak, with an average annual population growth of 3 per cent. Natural gas reserves account for 85 per cent of Sarawak’s total. It is one of the major industrial towns in Malaysia and its trade volume accounts for 45 per cent of Sarawak’s economic pie,” added Tiong.—DayakDaily