KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 35,594 or 72% of the eligible students from public tertiary education institutions have claimed the FLYsiswa flight tickets subsidies for domestic routes between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan as of Dec 5, says Anthony Loke.
The Transport Minister said that some 28% out of the 50,069 eligible students have yet to claim the RM300 digital vouchers, which they can redeem with local carriers such as Malaysia Airlines Bhd, AirAsia and Batik Air.
Loke urged eligible students to claim before the Dec 31 deadline.
These students will be able to travel any time next year.
Initially, the initiative was only open to public university students from Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan who were studying in Peninsular Malaysia and vice versa. However, based on the feedback received, the government has expanded the initiative to students from polytechnics, community colleges, matriculation colleges and teacher’s training colleges under the Higher Education Ministry.
Touching on the issue of high airfares, he said the high demand had affected the prices of flight tickets, owing to the recovery in flight capacity as well.
“The unity government is working on several measures to increase flight capacities while also introducing the FLYsiswa initiative to reduce the burden of high travel cost,” he said during his speech at the launch of the FlySiswa initiative at Universiti Malaya here on Friday(Dec 8).
He said although initially there was no allocation allotted specifically for the FLYSiswa initiative, the government had reallocated funds meant for another purpose which was unutilised for this initiative. On that note, he said the FLYSiswa programme was prioritised for the funds.
Loke said the Sarawak government has also been providing subsidies to students from Sarawak. He said the government will also engage with the Sabah government to look into the aid that can be provided.
“As a minister and a cabinet member, I totally understand the financial burden shouldered by students who live across the South China Sea. We have to play our role and fulfil the responsibility to help (them),” he said.
“The underlying message from this FLYsiswa initiative is that we want to bring real integration between Peninsular Malaysia and these territories (Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan),” he said.
The event was launched by Deputy Prime Minister II Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof and was also attended by Works Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi.
Fadillah said cognisant of the high cost of airfares, the Sarawak government had also introduced the RM600 flight subsidy initiative for students from Sarawak via the i-GPS initiative.
“It will be great if other states follow suit. I totally support if other states want to do it as well,” he said during his keynote speech.
He said through the FLYSiswa initiative, the government also wanted to ensure that familial ties remain strong by enabling students to travel to their hometowns, in addition to ensuring their welfare.
“We want students to focus on their studies,” he said.
“During our time, to return at a certain time, we had to sleep in the airport because we could not afford full tickets,” he said while adding they sometimes had to be on standby for vacant seats.
“We don’t want our students to go through such a situation in this day and age,” he said.
Later at a press conference, Loke said the government also has intentions to make the FLYSiswa initiative a yearly initiative.
He added that if the student did not redeem the full amount in one purchase, they could use the remaining balance for their next purchase.
Loke also advised students to plan their trips earlier to save some costs.
The FlySiswa initiative was announced in Budget 2024, to assist underprivileged students flying domestically between Sabah, Sarawak, Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan to return to their hometowns and get back to the varsities for a new semester.