KAMPUNG Tunku assemblywoman Lim Yi Wei yesterday called for the government to rescind the order for NGOs to stop efforts to supply vital aid to the poor, disabled and elderly during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period currently enforced.

She said NGOs halting their relief efforts abruptly would severely impact the poor and vulnerable most of whom rely on the aid provided to survive during this period.

“I would call for the government to rescind this order and allow the NGOs to continue what they are doing, with the required safety precautions such as social distancing and protection, which I am sure they already adhere to,” said Yi Wei.

“The federal government may not have a complete list of vulnerable communities that need urgent assistance. The fact is, certain communities remain under-served, showing that they have existed long outside the government’s radar.”

Just like many of her colleagues, Yi Wei and her team were out handing out vital food supplies to the severely needy in her constituency when the announcement that could end their efforts came from Putrajaya.

Staff seen preparing bags of essentials to be distributed to the poor and vulnerable in the Kampung Tunku area at the service centre yesterday. – Pic: talkedabout.org

Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced the directive yesterday and stated all aid supplies from the NGOs should be handed to the Welfare Department to be distributed by the People’s Volunteer Corps (RELA) and the army.

Substantial effort has also gone into the database of vulnerable poor within each constituency in identifying, verifying and locating the hundreds if not thousands who fall under that category with contact details and addresses all verified by teams already familiar with the task and who have been support to this sector of their communities during this crisis.

Yi Wei’s team of six, for example, had between themselves covered over a hundred highly vulnerable families with food supplies, funded through her allocation as assemblywoman.

While Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had on Friday announced a second stimulus package which covered an extensive scope of citizens in need, Yi Wei said the highly vulnerable have already been severely affected economically by the MCO and its economic impact now.

“The cash handouts under the stimulus package are good, but while people are still unclear about how to obtain them, it would also require a process of application and it would take some time,” she said.

“These people are vulnerable and they need to be provided food supplies and essentials right now.

“The NGOs have been doing a lot of hard work identifying these people within their community. When you suddenly stop these NGOs from being able to supply aid such as food, medicine and essential supplies, then you put these vulnerable groups at risk,” said Yi Wei.

“I would call on the federal government to rescind this directive. At this time, when supplying aid is urgent, time is of the essence, the government should decentralise as much as possible and the the NGOs continue the good work they have done.

“If there are any safety concerns with social distancing, the government could advise the NGOs and come up with a set of guidelines so that the NGOs can continue their work in a safe and responsible manner.

Briefing before the team splits into three groups to distribute aid to the needy. Notice the social distancing in practice. – Pic: talkedabout.org

“The NGOs are already following such guidelines. They are wearing masks and gloves when they go out, they are practicing social distancing, which is in accordance with the Health Ministry guidelines.”

Abruptly stopping the NGOs which are already carrying out aid work efficiently and bringing in the Welfare Department, RELA and the army, would also expose a new group of people to the risks in unfamiliar territory.

“I respect the Welfare Department very much. They do a lot of good work. But they are also very under-staffed and I don’t think this is the time to actually be merging databases. It would just take too much work. It would be an operational nightmare,” said Yi Wei.

“When we talk about thing like food. Food goes bad really quickly. So, let’s say an NGOs brings their food supplies to JKM, how fast is JKM going to channel that food out to the vulnerable? Those are the questions that really need to be asked.”

The Kampung Tunku ADUN Service Centre staff strike a socially distanced pose before heading out to aid the poor. – Pic: talkedabout.org