KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian students in the United Kingdom and Ireland are pleading for the Malaysian government to take firm and decisive action to ensure their safety while still in the region amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
In an open letter to the High Commissioner of Malaysia Datuk Mohamad Sadik Kethergany, dated March 26, the student leaders - representing several student organisations - highlighted their plight and appealed for the embassy to act now.
They claimed that at the time of writing, there has been no official stance communicated by the Foreign Ministry and/or High Commission in London on this matter.
“The rapid development of the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK these past two weeks has taken the Malaysian student population by surprise, and has left many of our counterparts in the unenviable position deciding whether to return home during these trying times.
“We are concerned… We have heard testimonials from students priced out of purchasing tickets home due to skyrocketing prices even as airlines have started to ground their flights worldwide.
“We have also heard from those who have showed up at airports only to discover that a country has gone into lockdown and their purchased flights have been cancelled,” the letter read.
They shared that students are financially strained, not only in trying to purchase flight tickets back to Malaysia, but also in trying to maintain rent and living expenses while still in the UK.
The student leaders also noted that if the UK reaches a full lockdown, rescue missions should be organised quickly and efficiently due to the sheer number of Malaysian students in the UK.
“We also have reason to believe that Malaysian students in the UK have no viable access to the National Health Service as they are only admitting over 65s or patients showing significant symptoms.”
They urged the Malaysian Embassy to immediately issue consular advice dictating its current stance on whether Malaysian students in the UK and Ireland should return home at this point of time.
The students stressed that it is the duty of the Malaysian High Commission in London to have critical information on Malaysian students in the UK in preparation for immediate evacuation, in case of a sudden spike or worsening of the situation in the UK.
“Information on students who need help will also be useful for donation efforts in supporting students who require assistance with rent or living expenses for the current short-term situation.”
They also plead for the High Commission to liaise with airlines, such as Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia (for domestic connecting flights) to come up with a plan to fly students home in batches and at a further discounted price or free of charge.
“If it is the High Commission’s stance that all Malaysian students should return home, then we ask that efforts be made to maximise the capacity of a limited number of flights headed home over a select number of dates to minimise costs to airlines, if necessary.
“These are unprecedented and trying times for all of us, and we are determined to ensure that not a single Malaysian student will be left behind or unaccounted for in such a critical period.
“We stand ready to render any and all assistance to you and the High Commission in your efforts, and we ask that you make full use of our resources and outreach to help speed up your work and make this process as efficient as possible.”
The letter was jointly signed by student leaders representing GenCorporate; Kesatuan Penuntut Undang-Undang Malaysia di UK and Eire 19/20 (KPUM); Malaysian Progressive United Kingdom; The Hubb Movement; The Kalsom Movement 26; United Kingdom and Eire Council 2019/2020 (UKEC); Charisma Movement; Kelab Bunga Raya United Kingdom; Malaysian Medics International United Kingdom; and Malaysian Accounting and Finance Society for UK and Ireland 2019/20.
On a related matter, the UKEC in collaboration with fellow student organisation are launching a crowdfunding pla
tform to raise money and provide welfare assistance to the Malaysian Students in the UK and Ireland who have hit hard times amidst this outbreak.
It was learnt that funds raised would be directed to help 25 severely affected students which are filtered from a pool of 195 applicants.
“We are aiming to raise £5,000 in total by April 1 to help aid the deserving students who are stranded in the UK and Ireland and are unable to make rent, support themselves at this challenging time and pay the full amount for a flight ticket back home,” a post on UKEC’s Facebook page read.
Read more about their situation on the gofundme page: