Coronavirus: Reopening issues

Malaysians stranded for hours at KLIA amid entry ban confusion

PETALING JAYA • About 200 Malaysians were stranded for hours at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) amid confusion over a new ruling barring entry to people from 23 countries, and claims that there were no hotel rooms to quarantine the arrivals.

The Malaysians were made to stay inside the airport waiting lounges for more than 10 hours on Monday as ground staff - including airline employees, airport personnel and immigration officers - tried to sort out whether the new ruling applied to the group.

However, when contacted, immigration officers said it was clear that Malaysians with all the proper documents would be allowed entry.

Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the travel ban imposed on people from 23 countries with a high number of Covid-19 cases does not apply to Malaysians returning from these places.

Ms Jolene Yap, who was among 50 Malaysians who arrived from Britain at about 6.30am on Monday, claimed that when she and the others disembarked, they were stopped from getting to the immigration counters despite showing letters of approval from the High Commission of Malaysia in Britain.

"At first, we were stopped because the ground staff were not sure whether Malaysians were allowed entry under the new ruling," she said. "After hours of waiting, an officer from the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) said that they could not find hotel rooms for us to be quarantined in."

They were later given the telephone numbers of hotels and told to book their own rooms.

"Despite all of us calling the same list of numbers, we were told by the hotels - when we did manage to get through - that only Nadma can book rooms for quarantine and we cannot do it ourselves," Ms Yap said.

At about 4pm, Ms Yap said she and her fellow passengers were informed by Nadma that rooms were available for them and they were then moved to the quarantine stations.

The Malaysians were made to stay inside the airport waiting lounges for more than 10 hours on Monday as ground staff - including airline employees, airport personnel and immigration officers - tried to sort out whether the new ruling applied to the group.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2020, with the headline 'Malaysians stranded for hours at KLIA amid entry ban confusion'. Print Edition | Subscribe