“Free frozen Chicken Fillet, Udon and Mantao (all halal). Given out because we have no way to distribute to the poor anymore and JKM don’t have storage. Rezeki for my neighbours today ” – That was all that William Cheah posted as a caption on his Facebook posting that went viral on social media today.
The caterer vented his frustrations at the government, who on Saturday announced a stop-work directive to all NGOs who were providing vital aid to the vulnerable section of society during the Movement Control Order that is into its 14th day tomorrow.
In the video Cheah, from Kota Kemuning, had rented frozen foods storage facility to store tons of frozen food contributed by a restaurant.
He had been distributing food aid to the poor, some of whom he stated were down to eating rice with soy sauce.
Cheah lambasted the “minister” which is likely senior minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who made the announcement on Saturday, giving him an undressing over the hastily enforced directive which has left not only the poor and marginalised unattended to, but the government themselves far from prepared to accept the food items from NGOs which are to be distributed.
Under the directive announced by Ismail Sabri, the NGOs involved in aid work were to immediately stop engaging in such activities and hand over their aid to the Welfare Department, who would then distribute the items to the needy assisted by the National Volunteer Corps (RELA) and the army.
The problem is, the Welfare Department themselves had not been prepared to accept the aid items from the NGOs as Cheah discovered.
With the ton of food not allowed to be distributed to the poor and Cheah already financially burdened by the daily rental charges for the storage facility, he opted to hand out the items to his neighbours in Kota Kemuning yesterday.
This further exposes the level of unpreparedness, even ignorance within the government with regards to matters at ground level, particularly the affairs of the poor and marginalised.
Not only has financial aid from the government not been disbursed with the expected urgency, from their announcement it begs the question of whether the Cabinet realises the gravity of the MCO’s economic impact on the poor, marginalised and vulnerable.
Many have lost their sources of income from the first day of the MCO and more are falling into the category of the newly unemployed.
The best solution it may seem is for the government to swallow their egos and work hand in hand with the NGO and agencies who are already caring for the needy, with databases already at their disposal.
What has been repeatedly stressed is the fact that the vulnerable are in a dire situation, they are going hungry and need to be helped now, not at the end of April, when the first payouts of the Perihatin Negara package are disbursed.
Earlier today, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim again highlighted the matter, as per our earlier story. (below)
On Saturday, NGOs and assemblypersons carrying out aid work in their constituencies immediately urged the government to rescind the directive, citing the vulnerability of so many.
Kampung Tunku assemblywoman Lim Yi Wei was one of them, as per video below: