KUCHING: The use of private jets by Sarawak government leaders and officials for overseas travel is meant to ensure their safety and security, says Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.
The Deputy Premier said the safety of state leaders and high-ranking officials could not be quantified in monetary terms.
"We take all necessary precautions to ensure a safe and secure journey, especially for travel overseas.
"As such, using private jets is a viable option that can provide the necessary level of security and safety," he said, adding that private jets also offered greater flexibility in travel arrangements compared to commercial aircraft.
Uggah said this in his winding-up speech in the state assembly on Wednesday (May 24) to clarify the issue of private jet travel raised by Violet Yong (PH-Pending) last week.
During the debate on the motion of thanks for the Head of State's speech, Yong had questioned why Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg and other state leaders flew to England for London Craft Week on a private jet.
She claimed that the rental of the Airbus corporate jet used by the state leaders for the trip could have cost RM4mil to RM5mil.
Uggah also clarified that the state government had a contract with Hornbill Skyways to provide aircraft services for the Sarawak Governor, Premier, Deputy Premiers and Cabinet ministers.
"The type of jet used by state leaders or government officials is not decided by the Sarawak government but determined by Hornbill Skyways based on the journey and technical suitability of the aircraft for long-haul travel," he said.