JOHOR BAHRU: A total of 1,092 civilians and 1,957 students from Sarawak who are outside the state have received immediate assistance in terms of access to food and accommodation from the Sarawak government to date since Covid-19 pandemic started.
The assistance was channelled since the beginning of the movement control order (MCO) enforced on March 18 through the Sarawak Kuala Lumpur Liaison Office (PPSKL) or Rumah Sarawak, in collaboration with Sarawak volunteers.
According to Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, who is also patron of Sarawak Volunteers, the Sarawak government took immediate measures to ease the burden of the people in resolving urgent problems, including for students stranded in West Malaysia, Sabah, and Labuan.
He said Sarawak Volunteers and Rumah Sarawak had also coordinated specially chartered flights to bring back 955 civilians and 9,668 students to Sarawak in collaboration with Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB), Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), and the Ministry of Higher Education.
He said that the accumulated value of Covid-19 assistance rendered was estimated to have reached RM1.8 million, allocated by the Sarawak government to care for the welfare of Sarawakians all over Malaysia.
“Sarawak Volunteers and Rumah Sarawak have also facilitated the sending of teachers back to their respective places of work in collaboration with MAB and the Sarawak Education Department (JPNS).
“This is to ensure that the process of reopening schools in stages can be carried out smoothly for the benefit of Sarawak students,” he said in his speech at the Abas Orang Kamek (AOK) Programme at Hotel Thistle, Johor Bahru on Friday. The programme was attended by 180 Sarawakians.
Fadillah said that due to concerns towards issues raised by students in the Lan Berambeh Anak Sarawak programme in 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had also inspired the Graduan Pulang Sarawak Initiative (i-GPS).
He explained that i-GPS was first implemented in 2019 to help students return to Sarawak with a one-way flight subsidy of RM300, which could be applied for twice a year.
Sarawak Volunteers is responsible for processing applications and coordinating payments directly to the accounts of successful applicants through the Yayasan Sarawak Student App which can be downloaded from the Playstore (Android) and App Store (Apple) or accessed via the Yayasan Sarawak website.
“As of June 30 this year, a total of 27,893 applicants have successfully received subsidy benefits amounting to RM8,367,900 from the Sarawak government through this initiative,” he said, adding that these students could now return to Sarawak during their semester breaks and especially during festive seasons to be together with family.
Throughout 2019, Rumah Sarawak and Sarawak Volunteers had also managed 183 weekly assistance cases for Sarawakians in need. Rumah Sarawak also managed the delivery of bodies of 49 Sarawakians who passed away in 2019.
Since the beginning of this year, 67 cases of weekly assistance have been managed by Rumah Sarawak and Sarawak Volunteers, while Rumah Sarawak has also managed the delivery of 33 bodies.