More than 4,300 M’sians still stranded overseas, says deputy minister

PETALING JAYA: There are 4,374 Malaysians currently stranded abroad after various countries imposed travel restrictions to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is a marked increase from the 3,616 reported three days earlier, with the rise predominantly due to more containment measures enforced globally.

Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar (pix), however, assured that the government was working hard to repatriate those stranded overseas as soon as possible.

“Yesterday (Monday) alone, we brought home 179 Malaysians stranded in Amritsar, India, while another 144 citizens have just arrived from Myanmar today,” he said in a live streaming on Facebook yesterday.

According to Kamarudin, of the current figure, close to half (or 2,156 Malaysians) involved those who are stuck in India after the government there imposed a nationwide lockdown beginning March 22.

“However, this figure is expected to reduce when more Malaysians are brought home via 11 special charter flights,” he said.

Kamarudin said besides India, other countries with high numbers of stranded Malaysians include Indonesia (680), Thailand (337), Australia (226), New Zealand (153), Pakistan (128) and Saudi Arabia (121).

The deputy minister also clarified that the 4,374 stranded Malaysians only comprised those who have already bought return tickets home but are forced to remain in the respective countries due to travel restrictions.

He also urged Malaysians who wish to travel home and are currently in countries that still allow outbound flights, to do so immediately before travel restrictions were imposed.

Meanwhile, citing previous statements from the Public Service Department (PSD) and Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara), Kamarudin advised students currently abroad to remain in their respective countries of study to avoid unnecessary risks.

“The Foreign Ministry is always in contact with Education Malaysia (EM), PSD, Mara and other Malaysian student community representatives overseas to get the latest updates and to ensure their welfare, safety and health are given the necessary attention,” he said.