Bandar Kuching MP calls on state, federal govt to ensure flight tickets are affordable for Sarawakians to come back to vote

Travellers are seen with their luggage at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport October 17, 2021. ― File picture by Hari Anggara
Travellers are seen with their luggage at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport October 17, 2021. ― File picture by Hari Anggara

KUCHING, Nov 30 ― Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii calls on both federal and state governments to step in and ensure flight ticket prices are more affordable for Sarawakians travelling back to Sarawak to vote during the 12th state election.

In suggesting this, he asserted that both governments should find ways to incentivise the people to return to Sarawak to vote, adding that this can be done through a subsidy scheme by both governments in collaboration with all the airlines.

He added that the exorbitant prices, especially in the case of flights into Sarawak, was said to be due to the severely limited flight frequencies imposed by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), resulting in reduced number of flights ― thus leading to the sky-high prices beyond the affordability of any common Malaysian.

“However, even with the announcement by the state Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Lee Kim Shin on increasing flight frequency to Sarawak from 223 to 307 weekly starting December 11, the prices of flights into Sarawak around the election days are still high, which may serve as a deterrent for many to come back to carry out their constitutional duty to vote,” he said in a statement yesterday.

While there was news report saying that with the approval given for additional flights to Sarawak, airlines like AirAsia have dropped the price of tickets to Kuching from Kuala Lumpur to under RM200, Dr Yii however said a quick search on their website did not show any availability of such flights at such prices, with very limited flights available at about RM300 one way ― and many others still more than RM1,000 for one-way flights.

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He added that even the cheaper-priced flights are limited and unable to cater for the demand especially for those wanting to travel back to vote.

As such, Dr Yii proposed that flight tickets to and from Sarawak, as well as within Sarawak, to be offered at an affordable flat rate for a week ― three days before and three days after the election on December 18.

Such prices, he added, should be offered for a few flights to cater for the demand and not just limited to a few seats.

“This has been done before and I am sure it can be done again. In conjunction with the 14th General Election in 2018, AirAsia offered fixed fares as low as RM99 to encourage Malaysians to return home to cast their ballots.

“Such model could be followed again to encourage more people to fly back home. Election is a celebration of democracy and is the constitutional right of every eligible citizen. No one should be left out.

“That is why I call upon the government to step in and provide the necessary assistance including SDMC to facilitate more flights into Sarawak to repeal any allegations that it is being used for undemocratic purposes including to increase obstacles for Sarawakian voters residing outside of Sarawak from coming back to participate in the upcoming state election,” he said. ― Borneo Post


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