It has been more than a year since we were put into lockdown, and many of us working in Sarawak are still unable to go back to our home states.
We understand that as civil servants, we need to put our jobs first, but then again, we should not be treated as foreigners in a state that belongs to the Federation of Malaysia. Why are we saying so? Let us explain.
While we understand that West Malaysians cannot be labelled as Sarawakians, we are still Malaysians working in Malaysia. Some of us chose to come here, and some of us were sent here.
However, most of us still have families to care of in West Malaysia. We are not complaining about serving the people of Sarawak. In fact, many of us have already acclimatised ourselves.
This state has indeed been very pleasant to work in. At the same time, what is being done to help us connect with our families?
If a West Malaysian want to go home to visit his or her family, or have his or her family visit them in Sarawak, they are required to pay for quarantine and Covid-19 test costs imposed by the state government, whereas local Sarawakians do not have to.
These payments exceed RM2,000 for a single individual. Let us take a closer look:
- West Malaysians working in Sarawak are actually serving the people of Sarawak. Given a choice, many would want to return to West Malaysia simply because of the rules imposed.
- While the term “Sarawak for Sarawakians” is a common one, kindly consider those non-Sarawakians serving Sarawakians too. It has been one year, and we don’t know when this pandemic will come to an end. Would people of this state be happy if they were stranded in another state, and that state also used such terms? If there is really enough manpower in Sarawak, then why not allow non-Sarawakians to go back to their respective states?
- Most of the transmission of Covid-19 is happening within the community in Sarawak. Clearly, the increase in recent cases was not caused by non-Sarawakians. Therefore, why isn’t there anything mentioned about the quarantine rule?
- While spas, karaoke outlets, and even bazaars are being allowed to operate, why impose such a rule on non-Sarawakians? While we may not be contributing to the economy directly, we are surely contributing to the community.
Once again, we do not have a problem serving the people of Sarawak, and we do appreciate the hospitality of the people of Sarawak. However, someone has to look into this issue. The Prime Minister is currently in Sarawak, and as the head of the Cabinet, I’m sure he can discuss this with the state government.
- If the quarantine rule has failed to keep the numbers low, we ask for a review on this rule.
- If quarantine in a hotel is required, the costs should be borne by the state or federal government for civil servants and their families, at least once.
- Home quarantine should be considered, if feasible, for those who have homes in Sarawak.
- Proper SOP rulings should be adhered to at all times.
- There should be an allowance to extend the stays of dependents, beyond the normal 90-day rule, as we are not able to say when this pandemic will end.
- A proper channel should be formed for these travel-related issues.
We hope this letter reaches the relevant authorities including the Prime Minister, Chief Minister and Sarawak Disaster Management Committee. Many of us would agree that calls to the official numbers given rarely get picked up.
We have no other avenue to express our grievances, hence this open letter.
Kindly do consider us Malaysians working in Malaysia. We have no regrets serving the people of Sarawak, but ask for some compassion for civil servants serving Sarawak. At the end of the day, we are not foreigners, but Malaysians. Thank you.
The writer is a civil servant working in Sarawak who wishes to remain anonymous to avoid cyberbullying and because there is no other avenue for complaints.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.