Malaysia Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport July 21, 2014. File Photo: Reuters

KUCHING: A senior lecturer at UCSI University Sarawak Campus here has suggested that lockdown on airports for international flights are extended after the movement control order (MCO) is over.

Dr Bernard Stephen Jussem.

Dr Bernard Stephen Jussem said stopping outsiders from entering the state during this critical time would be of great help in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As soon as this is back to normal, focus should be on local tourism instead of foreign. Like how they say it, ‘Kita Jaga Kita’.”

On airfare prices after the lockdown, Bernard stressed that there should not be any price hike after the current crisis was over.

He said airline companies should fix their airfares at the lowest rate to ease the burden of the public.

“The low rate should be at least for a while because people are already financially depressed and some in financial distress,” he said.

Datuk Peter Minos.

Kota Samarahan Municipal Council chairman Datuk Peter Minos said airlines must understand even though they, too, faced a very bad financial situation due to the crisis.

He said if airlines did not listen to the public, it was necessary for the government to step in.  

“Definitely, it will be very good if the government intercedes,” he added.

Minos said if because of the MCO, tickets could not be used, airlines should not “burn” them.

“To do so is not fair. It is not the fault of the travelling public. If they are understanding mode, the airlines must fully consider this issue and should waive the ‘burn’ rule,” he said.

He added that most travelling people were not rich and most were financially affected by the crisis.

“There is thus merit for airlines to lend a sympathetic ear to the plight of the people from whom they make profits in good times.

“When people are down as now, it is time to rethink and reconsider. We are all in this crisis together and together, we share the pains and burdens,” he added.

George Young.

Meanwhile, Habitat for Indigenous and Urban Programme (Hidup) president George Young Si Ricord Jr gave the thumbs-up to any well-thought initiatives by the government to help the state economy recover, especially if this brought relief and alleviated the plight of the less fortunate and those below the poverty line.

George hoped that in formulating the plans, the government consulted all stakeholders, including the non-governmental organisations.

“Hidup also highly recommends that the government starts by prioritising Sarawakians in rural areas who have somehow been neglected all these years,” said George.

He said these were the areas or villages which still did not have 24-hour electricity and clean water.

“If we want all Sarawakians to wash their hands to prevent contracting diseases like Covid-19. Then the government needs to make sure they have access to clean running water,” he said.