PKR president Anwar Ibrahim today reiterated his call for the government to use common sense and put aside political differences and expedite aid for the poor and vulnerable during the current crisis heightened by the Movement Control Order (MCO) to combat Covid 19.

He also called for the government’s relief package for the poor dubbed the Perihatin Rakyat package to be reviewed and expedited to earlier than the scheduled end of April delivery as the vulnerable are in dire need of assistance.

“Sometimes those who are more fortunate do not understand how the poor are feeling in times of crisis such as currently. There are those who have lost their source of income and are unable to go out to earn a living,” he said in a Facebook live session on his official page.

Anwar also added his voice to calls for the government to rescind the stop work order on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) delivering aid to the vulnerable poor, disabled, homeless and elderly.

“The current situation requires all of society to come together to help neighbours, the poor and those who are less fortunate. The government’s decision to offer the financial aid package to the people has to be reviewed. I would urge the government to expedite this aid,” he said.

“For those who have a regular income stream, to delay for a week or two is logical. For the hawkers, the daily wage earners who have been forced to stop their work due to the current regulations, to delay aid for three or four days is already a huge burden.

“This I understand through personal experience through public engagement and through feedback we get from our members of parliament who are on the ground dealing with their constituents’ issues,” said Anwar.

Due to the urgency of the matter, Anwar said, people’s representatives have had to find ways to help the people by distributing aid to the most vulnerable in their respective constituencies.

“Civil society, such as NGOs, welfare services and community collectives have to contribute, but they have their limitations, hence this is why I urge the government to expedite the aid measures,” said Anwar.

“Put the bureaucracy aside and take care of the people, especially the poor.”

On the government’s stop work directive to NGOs undertaking aid missions announced on Saturday, Anwar said the decision should be rescinded and a logical solution devised to ensure the vulnerable are not left to suffer.

“The decision for this work in aiding the poor to be carried out by the Welfare Department, who in each district are staffed by about 10 and are to serve thousands, does not make sense,” said Anwar.

“Thus the government should be flexible. Let these NGOs be registered at their District Office, their district police headquarters or their municipal council. This is to ease the bureaucracy, so they know the mechanisms, the source of funding and are able to monitor the movement.

“The bottom line is, the aid to the vulnerable can be expedited as they are in urgent need. At the moment, under the Health Ministry, 10 NGOs are allowed to conduct aid delivery, including Mercy Malaysia, ABIM, Ikram, a Buddhist association and others.”

Anwar suggested that these NGOs also be assisted by the government by providing them with additional funding if required to ensure more of the needy are covered.

“They have their limits. We have to urgently help them. If there is some extra funding, extend it to them, rather than the whole aid system relying on the government machinery,” said Anwar.

“I hope all of this is regarded as urgent. There is no need to talk about politics or to highlight parties, or personalities. These people need help now. Firstly, expedite the government aid and secondly allow the NGOs and civil society to do their part to help.”

Yesterday, NGOs across the country called on the government to look at the gravity of the situation and rescind their directive for NGOs who had been providing life-saving aid during the first two weeks of the MCO, with the suffering of the vulnerable expected to worsen in the coming weeks.

We followed Kampung Tunku assemblywoman Lim Yi Wei on an aid mission on Saturday. Watch the video below.