KUCHING, May 27 (Sin Chew Daily) -- More than 150 Malaysians have been stranded in the Philippines for over two months since the lockdown was imposed on March 17.
As if that is not enough, Malaysian Airlines has repeatedly canceled its flights. Among those stranded are four pregnant women and a 70-year-old senior citizen.
Based on the figures provided by the Embassy of Malaysia in Manila, a total of 118 Malaysians were in Metro Manila, while others were stranded in different islands.
The number of stranded Malaysians has exceeded 150 since the Philippines announced a nationwide lockdown on March 17, and many have indeed used up their savings too.
One of them is Huang Kai Xuan, 34, from Johor. As he missed home, he started a social media group "Jom Balik Kampung" where he managed to contact 45 other Malaysians stranded in the Philippines.
Aged between 21 and 70, they are from Sibu, Miri, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Kuala Lumpur and an Indonesian woman married to a Malaysian.
In an interview with Sin Chew Daily, Huang said many of the Malaysians stranded in the Philippines were unable to leave the country as flights were canceled repeatedly. Many were there to work, travel or visit relatives.
Huang's flights were canceled four times and he had since spent more than RM2,000 on air tickets alone.
He said the Malaysian Embassy in Manila had arranged for two chartered flights on April 5 and 28 to fly home 58 and 128 passengers respectively. On April 28, the airfare for a passenger was US$338 (RM1,474). Many missed the opportunity to leave the Philippines due to lack of publicity.
Although the Embassy has arranged for another chartered flight in June, many have lost their jobs during lockdown and not all are able to pay for the air tickets, hotel quarantine fees and other expenses, he said.
Cherie, from Miri, is currently 32 weeks pregnant. She is keen to return home as soon as possible since she would not be allowed to board on a plane once she is 35 weeks pregnant.