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A tough life for M’sians in Sri Lanka

“Nowadays, the power cuts are reduced to three hours per day,” she said, adding that Sri Lanka has no money to pay for diesel supplies to generate electricity.


She went to five hospitals for the medication a doctor had prescribed for her sick daughter, all to no avail.

Kim Tham, a Malaysian living in Sri Lanka, said the dire condition of the country has limited her access to basic medication.

“My daughter was sick and was prescribed antibiotics by the doctor. We searched five major hospitals but could not find any,” said the 36-year-old.

Tham, who has been living in Colombo since 2019, told her doctor about her plight.

“The doctor found antibiotics at a small pharmacy and we had to immediately get it as they would not hold on to it for us.

“When we arrived at the pharmacy, they did not allow us to buy the prescribed amount, which was three bottles,” she said.

She said after persuading the pharmacist, she was given two bottles.

“This is just normal antibiotics and there were three other mothers there at the pharmacy who needed it too,” she said.

For now, Tham said the people were also limited to 20l of fuel per week.

“We’re given a QR code to show to the gas attendant and they will fill up our tank, but the amount is not even enough to fill up half a tank.

“Sometimes people can queue up to two days to get fuel,” she said.

Tham said the roads were empty as public buses could not run and there was not enough fuel for people to get around.

“Last month, schools were closed and government officials told to work from home.

“You cannot get a tuk-tuk (motorised rickshaw) or order deliveries because of the situation now,” she said.

She said it was also difficult to get access to basic necessities.

“There are protests day after day and we have to search high and low for items like milk and butter.

“Everything has also become very expensive because of the drop in currency,” she added.

Tham, who is currently in Canada on vacation, said that the airport in Colombo was packed with people who wanted to leave the country.

“People were trying to get jobs overseas or flee to wherever they could go.

“We are also preparing for an evacuation if the situation gets worse,” she added.

Life has been tough, especially since end of last year when Sri Lanka faced its worst financial crisis ever. Foreign exchange reserves were depleting, leading to its people facing food and fuel shortages.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced their resignations after thousands of anti-government protesters barged into the president’s official residence in central Colombo and torched the private residence of the prime minister.

Housewife Chong Mun Yi, who lives in Dehiwala, said there have been instances where power cuts lasted for about six to eight hours a day.

This came about following power rationing imposed by the Sri Lankan government.

“Nowadays, the power cuts are reduced to three hours per day,” she said, adding that Sri Lanka has no money to pay for diesel supplies to generate electricity.

She said her family were unable to get fresh produce as they were not living in the city centre.

“Supplies do not come to our area frequently enough. We have to buy whatever is available and we only eat to survive,” said the 35-year-old.

Chong said movement was restricted as they could not get enough petrol due to the fuel rationing.

“The petrol queues are unbearable, and everyone is queueing up for days just to get fuel,” she said, adding that there are often news reports of people dying while queuing for fuel.

As for medicines, Chong said her family would rely on her friends who travelled back to Malaysia to get her the supplies.

“We are lucky as we are still young and healthy. I dread to think about those who have illnesses and in need of special medicines,” she added.

Chong has been living in Sri Lanka for almost four years with her husband Kelvin Lau, who is the managing director of a French-owned factory here.

Lau said the situation was even more critical in July when there was no fuel and protests were happening frequently.

“We had to check the news a few times a day, to make sure the place we were travelling to was safe.

“There were very few cars on the road last month.

“Most of the people were either walking or cycling. Even public transport was rarely seen,” he said, adding that the general situation was currently improving in his area.

“We don’t see the very long queue for petrol anymore. There are still queues, but they are much shorter now,” he added.

On July 17, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah said that 126 Malaysians had registered with Malaysia’s High Commission in Sri Lanka and were reported to be safe, with some of them having returned home voluntarily.