KUCHING: Twenty-six students studying at Sekolah Sukan Malaysia Sabah (SSMS) returned to Sarawak today.
They were stranded in Kota Kinabalu when SSMS was ordered to close on June 1 due to the movement control order (MCO).
“We are grateful to the Sarawak government, the Ministry of Education (MoE), Rumah Sarawak in Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak Volunteers, and MAS for making today’s return possible,” said head of the group, Mohamad Aiman Fitri Mohamad Osman.
“Everything went smoothly with the help of Sarawak Volunteers and Rumah Sarawak, who handled everything, including housing and food.”
Mohamad Aiman, 20, from Sarikei led prayers before boarding flight MH2536 from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to Kuching at 2.05pm.
He also thanked federal Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusuf, who is the Sarawak Volunteers patron.
Meanwhile, Fadillah expressed his thanks to all parties involved, especially the MoE, Rumah Sarawak and Sarawak Volunteers.
“Sarawak Volunteers was contacted about the students after the hostel and school were ordered to close due to the MCO. With the cooperation of all parties concerned, the return of the students was managed immediately.”
He said throughout the pandemic, the Sarawak government through Sarawak Volunteers and Rumah Sarawak had helped 12,168 Sarawak students, either stranded or facing difficulties, throughout Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Labuan.
“In fact, assistance was also given to Sarawak students who returned from abroad.”
On another note, Vanessa Payak, 19, from Bau, was relieved and overwhelmed that they would not only be returning home, but also that the MoE and the Sarawak government would cover the flight home.
Rozales Sigau, 16, from Bintulu was also touched by the Sarawak government’s concern and that of those involved.
“We can’t believe we can go home together because it’s much more terrible to go home alone in a pandemic and MCO situation like this. I want to thank everyone who assisted us.”
Yulieya Anasha Sanin, 14, said they had difficulty securing a flight back on their own.
“Alhamdulillah, with the assistance of the Sarawak government and the MoE, we were allowed to return to Kuching,” she said, adding that she would be going back to Miri after a 14-day quarantine in Kuching.
Alfando Gerry Mike, 13, from Limbang, also expressed his delight and eagerness to finally get to see his family.