Make chartered flights a reality, CM urged

SARAWAK Chief Minister must start the chartered flights for Sarawak students to return home during the festive season as promised, said state DAP vice-chairman David Wong.

He said Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg should announce the price the students have to bear, the subsidies by the Sarawak government and the duration of the subsidised airfare programme such as a week before and after the festive season.

Wong said many students were waiting for his announcement on the mechanism of the subsidies and when it would start.

“The Chinese New Year is at the beginning of February 2019 and there is not much time left for the students to get their tickets.

“Further delay in announcing the programme will only cause anxiety and stress for the students and their parents,” said Wong in a press statement.

He was referring to Abang Johari’s announcement at the “TanyakAbgJo Session” during the Lan Berambeh Anak Sarawak 2018 event in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 20.

Abang Johari was reported to have said that the students would bear a certain amount of the chartered flight airfare while the rest would be subsidised by the Sarawak government.

Wong added that with a reserve of RM31bil, the Sarawak government was poised to help Sarawakians reduce their financial burden and there was simply no reason why the Sarawak government could not honour providing subsidised airfare to return home for the festive season.

Separately, he said DAP Sarawak welcomed the announcement by Transport Minister Anthony Loke that AirAsia agreed to the additional midnight flights from Johor to Kuching and Johor to Sibu at a fixed price of RM149 during the upcoming Chinese New Year to address the problem of high air fares.

This is in addition to the extra midnight flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching/Sibu/Miri (seven days before and after Chinese New Year) at a fixed price of RM149 which the minister announced on Nov 21.

“The issue of outrageous air fares from peninsula Malaysia to Sibu/Kuching/Miri has been going on for a long time and Sarawakians feel both the federal and state governments have failed them for not addressing the issue seriously,” he added.

He said a return ticket from Kuala Lumpur and Johor to Sarawak could cost up to RM2,000.

Wong said he brought the matter up in the State Legislative Assembly sitting numerous times while Lanang MP Alice Lau did the same at Parliament since 2013, but nothing came of it.