A group of 68 Malaysians, who were stranded in the Solomon Islands (SI) since last year after their employment contracts with logging companies ended, have left the country.
They were immediately placed under a 14-day quarantine in hotels for a Covid-19 observation upon arrival in Malaysia.
They managed to return home after one of them contacted Sarawak's State Minister of Transport Datuk Lee Kim Shin for assistance.
Lee told the Malay Mail that the group departed Solomon Islands yesterday and arrived at Kuching International Airport the same day on a chartered Solomon Airlines flight.
“With the assistance of the Consulate of Malaysia in Honiara, the Solomon Islands, a chartered Solomon Airlines’ direct flight was arranged to fly the 68 stranded workers from Honiara International Airport,” Lee said in a statement.
He added they had worked for different logging companies in Solomon Islands and wanted to return to Malaysia as their employment contracts finished last year.
“One of them called me when they encountered problems for the chartered flight landing in Kuching and also their entry to Sarawak,” he said.
Lee said he immediately requested his ministry’s officers to coordinate with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) on the validation of the Foreign Aircraft Operator Certificate (FAOC) for the chartered flight to fly directly to Kuching from Solomon Islands.
He said he also coordinated with the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) to ensure approval was granted for their entry into Sarawak.
He said apart from being ordered into isolation, the 68 were also swabbed for Covid-19 in accordance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by SDMC.