by BERNAMA / pic by BLOOMBERG
The Malaysian Students’ Council of Australia (MASCA) is deeply disheartened that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (picture) had asked international students to return to their home countries during the COVID-19 pandemic if they cannot support themselves financially.
MASCA National Chairperson, Zayana Zaikariah, said the remark which came last Friday demonstrates that the Australian Government does not understand the situation many students are facing during this challenging period.
“Especially where their parents at home face unexpected and tremendous financial constraints. Students also face complications such as border closures, airlines cancelling flights back to Malaysia, and airlines’ price gouging.
“Although the Australian Government has provided some support, it isn’t enough during these unprecedented times,” the Australian National University student told Bernama.
Currently, there are about 30,000 Malaysian students in Australia.
According to ABC News, Morrison told visitor visa holders and international students the time has come to return to their home countries if they cannot support themselves as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, as the country had to focus on its own citizens and residents.
It also reported that many of the more than 500,000 international students in Australia have lost their casual and part-time jobs due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Meanwhile, Zayana said as international students collectively contribute more than A$30 billion for the Australian economy, they should not be sidelined during such crisis.
“MASCA stands clear. After what Malaysian students have contributed to Australia, the Australian Government has a moral responsibility to support and assist Malaysian students that are affected when we are most vulnerable,” she said.
Zayana said students had reached out to the Council as they faced financial constraints and MASCA are trying their best to provide any means of monetary support for the students which includes liaising with Education Malaysia Australia (EMA).
“For the welfare of students, EMA is usually the first point of contact. And from there, EMA will liaise with Malaysian High Commission where necessary. EMA has been very helpful and has kept MASCA updated every step of the way,” she said.
Zayana said MASCA is also planning to organise crowdfunding to help affected students but is still at the very initial steps of the initiative.
MASCA is the official student representative council for Malaysian students in Australia. Besides the MASCA National chapter which covers Australia-wide, each state has its own MASCA chapter.