We’re in the dark over Sabah’s plan to let in Chinese workers, says minister

Senior Minister (Security) Ismail Sabri Yaakob says the country’s borders are still closed to foreigners, especially if it involved tourists.

PUTRAJAYA: The Sabah state government did not discuss its decision to allow workers from China to enter the state with the federal government, says Senior Minister (Security) Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

At a press conference, he said at the federal level, under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, the country’s borders were still closed to foreigners, especially if it involved tourists.

On Wednesday, Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal said foreign workers from China would be allowed to enter the state subject to undergoing Covid-19 swab tests.

Even with foreign workers who were based in Malaysia, Ismail said only those on EP1 visas (Category 1 expatriates) are allowed in.

These workers, he added, are required to undergo swab tests in their home country and when they arrive in Malaysia.

“I do not know what workers Sabah is referring to. Other workers (non-EP1 visa holders) are not allowed.

“We still regard China as a high-risk country. We are discussing at the National Security Council whether we can categorise the various areas in China as it is big. Maybe some areas are red zones, others are not. But that is still under discussion.”

Until today, all visitors and workers who are not EP1 visa holders still need to get the Immigration Department’s permission.

“So I believe what was done by Sabah was its own decision and this was not discussed with the federal authorities.”

High airfares

Ismail said the government took note of the high airfares and understood that prices had to be high as airlines could not fly at full capacity due to social distancing.

But, he said, airlines were now allowed to carry full loads as there was no need for social distancing on board.

“The airfares need to return to the pre-movement control order (MCO) prices. There is no more excuse that they cannot fly at full capacity any more.”

The government, Ismail said, had asked the Malaysian Aviation Commission and the transport ministry to engage airlines on the matter and to provide special prices for teachers and students from institutions of higher learning as classes are set to resume.

“This will involve many students in Sabah and Sarawak who study in the peninsula, and students in the peninsula who study in the two states.

“So we ask that a special price be given to students going to continue their studies.”

On another matter, Ismail said the government will discuss allowing full contact training for team sports as well as the continuation of sporting activities next week.

“The decision to allow contact sports activities depends on the advice of the NSC and health ministry. Please wait, we will make a decision if it is allowed and what SOPs should apply.”

He also reminded voters in Chini, which will see a by-election tomorrow, to observe the relevant SOPs when casting their votes tomorrow.

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