PETALING JAYA: For the past 17 years, James and his wife lived happily in Kuala Lumpur under the Malaysia My Second Home programme, a government-supported initiative allowing foreigners to reside in the country on a social pass.
But what was meant to be a quick trip to London early last month left them stranded in the UK after Putrajaya implemented the movement control order (MCO) to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
Under the MCO, foreigners on social, student or working passes are not allowed to enter Malaysia.
For now, the couple is staying with family members in England. While it is an amicable arrangement, though, all they really want is to go home.
“Malaysia is our home,” James, a retiree, told FMT.
“Our entire life is in Malaysia – our house, our car, our documents, even our bank accounts are in Malaysia.
“My pension goes into my accounts in Malaysia. I can’t change where my pension is being transferred to. I only have a suitcase here in the UK.”
Their predicament is not due to a lack of effort on their part. Once the MCO was announced, James reached out to the Malaysian High Commission in London. However, he was told that foreigners on work or social passes would not be allowed back into the country during the partial lockdown.
James said he understood the government’s concerns that foreigners could carry the virus into the country.
“That’s understandable,” he added. “But treat us like returning Malaysians and quarantine us.”
He said he and his wife would gladly undergo any screening and tests required by the government and stay at a quarantine centre like Malaysians returning from overseas.
He added that health costs would be covered by their insurance.
“For the past 17 years, Malaysia has treated us like residents. I think it would be unfair to treat us differently now.”
The MCO, implemented on March 18, saw a litany of restrictions put in place including checks on travel, business operations and social movements.
It was initially supposed to end on March 31. However, it was extended to April 14, and again to April 28.
The pandemic has so far claimed 93 lives in Malaysia, with 5,532 cases recorded as of yesterday.
Of these, some 60% have recovered and been discharged.
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