Don’t bar us, say students

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 03 Sep 2020

PETALING JAYA: It’s unfair to bar us from entering Malaysia, students from India and Indonesia say.

They were referring to Malaysia’s decision to stop long-term pass holders from three countries from entering the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indonesian student Kenneth Aaron, 20, described the move as hasty.

“I was disturbed by the announcement because I cannot return to Malaysia and continue my studies, unlike my other international friends. It is very unfair.

“I prefer face-to-face learning because it’s hard for me to keep my focus and concentration via online learning,” he said in an interview.

Aaron is a second-year student from Jakarta who enrolled in a degree course in Computer Science specialising in data analytics at a private university here.

On Tuesday, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said long-term pass holders from India, Indonesia and the Philippines will not be allowed to enter Malaysia effective Sept 7, following a spike in Covid-19 cases in these countries.

The citizens from the three countries who are affected include those holding permanent resident status, participants of Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H), expatriates and professional visit pass holders, spouses of Malaysian citizens and students, many of whom were still allowed to travel to the country despite tight restrictions on travel.

Final-year Indian student Parvez Alam, 22, said the announcement has hampered his plans of finding a job after he graduates, casting uncertainty over his career plans.

“The government could at least allow us to enter Malaysia if we test negative.

“One of the main reasons I chose to study in Malaysia was for its global exposure. My friends and I were active in numerous events and activities, some of which I organised.

“It gave us valuable experience and practical knowledge,” said Parvez, who also enrolled in a degree course in Computer Science specialising in data analytics.

The National Association of Private Educational Institutions (Napei) raised the students’ concerns as well.

Its president, Assoc Prof Elajsolan Mohan, said the government should instead look for alternative solutions as the move will also affect the economy.

“It will greatly affect new student enrolment as the majority of our international student population comes from these countries, besides China.

“Of course, the government’s main aim is to ensure everyone’s safety, but it’s not fair to the students.

“There are other ways of resolving this matter, such as enhancing the existing standard operating procedures (SOP) or adding more SOP. All the governments could work together too,” he added.

He said the move will create a ripple effect on the sustainability of Malaysia’s colleges and universities, as well as the country’s economy.

“It will also affect students who are already studying in our universities, especially those in courses that require them to complete practical components to graduate.

“Malaysia is safer compared to other countries because we have many SOP in place.

“So it’s a matter of enhancing these SOP instead of completely barring students from these countries to enter Malaysia.”

Other students, however, feel that the decision is a necessary step towards stemming the transmission of Covid-19.

While Indonesian student Belinda Wang is disappointed and uncertain whether she can sit for her A-Level examination in Sunway College for the November series, she understood the need to take such a step.

“If I defer my enrolment to the January 2021 intake, I will have to restart my whole academic year and take my exam only in November 2021.

“But in a situation like this pandemic, I cannot be selfish.

“I understand that the Malaysian government does not want the number of Covid-19 cases to rise, and this could be one way to fight the virus,” said the 17-year-old from Lampung, Indonesia.

Chatarina Hanny Angelita Teja, 17, who studied in Sunway International School, returned to her home country Indonesia just before the movement control order was implemented.

Now enrolled in Sunway College’s Canadian International Matriculation Programme, the student wanted to be with her family and reduce their financial burden.

Being barred from entering Malaysia will mean the inability to study face-to-face and not seeing her friends.

“I also left behind some of my belongings in the school’s dormitory, so it’s hard to revise.

“But the government’s decision is justifiable and fair to every Malaysian citizen – we cannot risk anymore casualties due to Covid-19, especially since the number of patients infected in these three countries are high,” she said.

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