Sarawakians in Peninsular Malaysia see red over expensive airfares

Sarawakians in Peninsular Malaysia see red over expensive airfares

The overpriced flight tickets would not only deter them from returning home for the year-end holidays but would likely lead them to forgo their plan to cast their votes in the 12th Sarawak state election on December 18. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUCHING, Nov 26 — It seems like most Sarawakians living and working in the peninsula will not be celebrating Christmas in their hometown due to the recent hike in airfares.

The overpriced flight tickets would not only deter them from returning home for the year-end holidays but would likely lead them to forgo their plan to cast their votes in the 12th Sarawak state election on December 18.

Noodle seller Leo Joe Miller who hails from Kampung Bangau, Padawan near here and now living in Kuala Lumpur said this year would be his fourth year of not going back to his home state, as the last two years was due to the movement control order (MCO) following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s not that I don’t want to bring my family back to Sarawak, but it would cost me almost RM5,000 just to purchase the tickets and this is such a burden to us,” he told Bernama when contacted today.

The 34-year-old father of three said the pandemic had hit hard on his small business and he wanted the federal and Sarawak governments to intervene so that the airfares could be lowered to a level affordable to the low-income group.

Leo said not all Sarawakians working in the peninsula were doing well as most of them were only wishing to seek greener pastures to improve their livelihood.

“We are not (working) here for fun…we are looking for a better opportunity but this situation (the pandemic) is certainly making it worse and the overpriced flight ticket is just like adding salt to our wound,” he lamented. 

Meanwhile, a content writer based in Kuala Lumpur, Gareth Dawum, said he had to cancel his plan to fly back to Kuching for the two important events, the Christmas celebration and the state election.

“The last time I checked, the price was around RM1,000 to RM4,000 for both ways and this is really ‘harga kayangan’ (expensive),” he said.

He hoped that airline companies would consider reducing the airfares especially to enable Sarawakians to return home to exercise their voting rights.

The 32-year-old from Kuching said many Sarawakians were looking forward to spending time especially with their parents or settling some important errands after almost two years of not being able to return home due to the movement restrictions imposed by the government.

Sarawak songbird Alena Murang was also among those from the state who expressed her shock and disappointment over the overpriced airfares for flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching in December.

“Trying to get the best flights to Kuching (from Kuala Lumpur) for Christmas and shocked at these prices!  After including add-ons & KLIA airport transfers, safe to say we might as well be flying to London!

“If you knew how many tears were shed by all the Sarawakians who couldn’t return home last year cause (of) lockdown. Please have a heart, I mean, we are the state that celebrates Christmas the most!” she wrote on her Instagram and Facebook pages.

A check by Bernama on several websites of airlines operating flights from the peninsula to Sarawak today showed that the cheapest one-way ticket for the KL-Kuching route was RM1,299, KL-Sibu (RM888) and KL-Miri (RM665). — Bernama

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