Sunday, November 29

Plight of foreign spouses paying high costs to reunite with Sarawakian spouses best addressed by SDMC, says Fatimah

0

Fatimah (center) speaking to reporters at the event. – Photo by Mohd Rais Sanusi.

KUCHING (Nov 21): Minister of Welfare, Community Well-being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah declined to comment on plight of foreign spouses who have to pay exorbitant Covid-19 quarantine fees to be reunited with their Sarawakian spouses.

She said the matter was best addressed by the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC).

She added that SDMC when announcing whether the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in Kuching district is to be extended at a press conference tomorrow, may want to respond to the matter.

“I think I would not be able to answer that, maybe it should be directed to SDMC during the SDMC press conference tomorrow…because we need to announce if CMCO is extended. Maybe could ask at that time,” she said when asked after the presentation of grants to non-government organisations (NGOs) at Sri Satok Community-Based Rehabilitation Centre (PDK) today.

According to the Malay Mail today, foreign spouses of Sarawakians had to pay as much as RM5,500 for quarantine alone, which led to some depleting their savings and others reconsidering the idea to return to Sarawak owing to financial difficulties.

This is because they have to quarantine twice, unlike Sarawakians who return from overseas are allowed to transit within 24 hours. Once they arrived in the peninsular, they have to quarantine for 14 days, and a further three days upon arrival into Sarawak. The 17-days quarantine and swab tests adds up to RM5,500.

This is on top of the Immigration Malaysia requirements of applying for approval online, using the My Travel Pass, or email Immigration Malaysia, the letter of undertaking of mandatory 14 days quarantine at quarantine station and travel notice from the embassy.

Foreign Spouses Support Group (FSSG) co-founder and lead co-ordinator Bina Ramanand said the Covid-19 pandemic has already exacerbated the challenges faced by Malaysians in transnational marriages as well as their non-citizen spouses and children, with a disproportionate impact on women and children.

Bina said the Covid-19 pandemic has already exacerbated the challenges faced by Malaysians in transnational marriages as well as their non-citizen spouses and children, with a disproportionate impact on women and children.

“FSSG also appeals to the government to grant permission to spouses to enter the country in the best interest of the family, so that women and children are not disproportionately affected. Wives separated from their husbands and children from their parents, they have been pleading for eight months to re-unite, do they have to endure more? Do consider the consequences of the long-term separation of families, some of whom are experiencing severe mental and physical health impacts with possible irreversible trauma.

“We do fully acknowledge that the concerns of public health have resulted in the decision to have quarantine but the high cost is unaffordable. Many of these families are experiencing financial crises, having lost their jobs and are unable to afford the double quarantine charges,” she lamented, adding that the increased air travel cost is another burden on these families.