Putrajaya to arrange flights home for stranded Sabah, Sarawak university students

Ismail Sabri addressing the MCO press conference.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, April 24: The federal government will make flight arrangements for stranded Sarawakian and Sabahan university students to return to their home states.

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the affected students, stranded at their campuses since the movement control order (MCO) was enforced, will be allowed to travel home to Covid-19 green zones in stages starting Monday (April 27).

“Students returning to the green zones in Sabah and Sarawak will be flown to the airport nearest to their hometown and they are required to undergo a compulsory 14-day quarantine.

“The Ministry of Higher Education is collaborating with Sarawak and Sabah governments on the arrangements to send students back to their home states,” he told a daily press conference on MCO in Putrajaya today.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that MCO will be extended for another two weeks until May 12 with some restrictions being eased, including allowing tertiary students staying in campus to return to their hometown.

However, before making the trip, Ismail Sabri said all students must obtain movement permission letters from their respective institution and the nearest police station.

“During the Cabinet special meeting today, the Minister of Higher Education Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad has tabled the standard operation procedure (SOP) process for sending students in public and private varsities (IPT and IPTS) under the ministry, including polytechnics and community colleges, home.

“The meeting has agreed to allow students to travel home starting April 27 but the travel time is limited from 9pm to 9am to ensure controlled movement and would not involve mass movement,” he said.

He added that students will be required to undergo a health screening to ensure they are in good health before taking the bus.

“Food and face mask will be provided. Capacity of buses will be cut to half to comply with the social distancing guidelines.

“Students will be transported to the district police headquarters or district office nearest to their campuses, and government agency personnel will then escort them to their respective homes,” he added.

As for students who owned their own vehicles, he said they will be allowed to drive home alone without any passengers, provided that it is not an interstate trip.

The process to send students back to their home towns will involve 85 per cent of varsity students or about 53,000 students, he continued.

Students who decided to remain in campuses, the ministry will take care of the daily meals, as usual, said Ismail Sabri. — DayakDaily