By Poovenraj Kanagaraj
Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen has banned a flight carrying 150 Cambodians from Malaysia in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus outbreak in the Kingdom.
According to Japanese daily, The Mainichi, the premier in a press conference stated that the decision to turn down the planned return of the Cambodians, who have been working in Malaysia, was for the safety of the country’s population of 15 million.
Sobri Salleh, a Cambodian student from the International Islamic University Malaysia was among the 150 passengers that was denied re-entry today into Cambodia.
“We have informed the Cambodian embassy in Malaysia but there was no answer if we could get another flight back or a refund,” Sobri told Business Today.
He further added that a number of Cambodians among the 150 did not have a valid Visa anymore or money to keep staying, pointing out that buying necessities might become a struggle.
Patrick Lee, legal consultant for the Central Alliance of Labor and Human Rights told Business Today that the ban on the flight was a violation of Article 40 of the Constitution, where it is stated that all Khmer citizens have the right to settle abroad and to return home.
“We heard that there are around eight workers sleeping in the airport because they don’t have enough money to go anywhere else,” Lee said
A news report according to Khmer Times stated that 70 of the passengers due back were fisherman who had lost their jobs and their flights were paid by the fishing company that hired them.
The Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia has also issued a statement in accordance to the Prime Minister’s ban, urging Cambodian workers to not return home.
The statement did not include any form of aid or remuneration from the embassy for the stranded workers.
In early February, the prime minister had personally greeted 400 who had disembarked from the Westerdam cruise ship after two weeks at sea.
The cruise ship previously turned away by such countries as Japan, the Philippines and Thailand over virus fears.
This was seen as a likely show of goodwill to the U.S. and Europe.
Cambodia has recorded up to 115 positive cases with 80 of it being imported.
Hun Sen has also cancelled the upcoming Khmer New Year from April 13 to 15.