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Govt urged to repatriate 120 Malaysians stranded in Nunukan
Published on: Sunday, April 05, 2020
By: Sherell Jeffrey
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Some of the Malaysians stranded in Nunukan.
Kota Kinabalu: Non-governmental organisation Pertubuhan Paradigma Wanita Sabah (Awas) has called on the State Government to expedite the process of bringing back 120 Malaysians believed to have been stranded in Nunukan, Indonesia, since late March. 

“We urge the Government to consider reopening the Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS) Complex in Tawau to allow them in,” said Awas President Winnie Juani, here, Saturday.

Winnie reached out to the Daily Express to highlight the matter after getting wind of the group’s plight through an acquaintance who was among those stranded. 

It was learnt that the group comprises men, women, children and disabled, from Papar, Tawau and Lahad Datu. 

She also furnished a video footage purportedly recorded by the group who pleaded for help in getting them home. 

“We therefore appeal to the Government to give priority to the safety and welfare of our people who are stranded under the current circumstances,” she said. 

Through her conversation with her acquaintance, she learnt that many are running out of cash to pay for their hotel and food. 

“For now, they are lucky because some villagers are generous enough to provide them breakfast. 

“I was also made to understand that all of them have registered with the Malaysian Consulate in Pontianak and an ‘attache’ immigration officer has registered and given their names to the Sabah Immigration Department for approval from the State Government,” she added. 

Questions arise over how they got stranded in the first place and whether they are aware of the restrictions following the Movement Control Order (MCO) imposed by the Government to contain the spread of Covid-19. 

“My acquaintance claimed that he and his friend arrived in Surabaya on Feb 29 to attend a business meeting and were scheduled to return to Sabah on March 22. But by then, all flights had been stopped, prompting them to contact the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta for help.

“They claimed that they couldn’t reach the embassy and decided to find an alternative route home before their passports expired on March 29. 

“They were informed by a friend that the ferry to Tawau was still in operation and thus they took a flight to Balikpapan-Tarakan with the intention of boarding a ferry to Nunukan on March 27, only to find out that the ferry from Nunukan to Tawau has also ceased operation. 

“They claimed that they could choose to stay in Malang but have limited budget for that. They also claimed that because they are foreigners, they were not allowed to stay in Malang,” she said.

On another note, Winnie expressed thanks to the Merotai Assemblyman who has also provided the group with some funds to buy food. 

“We hope the Merotai Assemblyman can also do something to address the matter,” she said.  Last month, 18 Malaysians, including 12 tabligh members, were brought home after being stranded in Nunukan. 

The group, which included two women, three boys and girls, arrived in two special boats escorted by Malaysian security forces. 

On March 24, six other Malaysian tabligh members returning from Makassar were also reportedly stranded in Indonesia.

 


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