By Karen Bong
KUCHING, April 21: The state food aid programme should not be politicised as responsibilities were discharged without partiality to ensure that deserving and vulnerable communities get the much needed aid.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan emphasised this as he felt this should not made an issue because the food aid is meant to help those in need.
“There is no politics in this matter. We are very sincere. The food aid distribution is carried out smoothly and reaching most areas while still ongoing in some areas,” he told reporters today.
He was met after receiving RM2 million worth of disposable medical supplies contributed by Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) and Sarawak Timber Association (STA) at Kuching Senari Port, Jalan Bako here today.
The Sarawak government, he reiterated, has allocated RM200,000 for each state constituency to get food supply for vulnerable communities impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and Movement Control Order (MCO).
“This means that not only areas under GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) are given (the allocation) but also the Opposition areas with the same amount of allocation.
“This demonstrates that politics is not the concern here. We need to put aside politics and what’s more important is to ensure the needy get the much needed assistance,” he said.
Awang Tengah highlighted that the district-level Disaster Management Committees and Resident Offices have been tasked to coordinate, manage and ensure the distribution of food aid.
“Allocation has been channelled to the district-level committees and Resident Offices throughout Sarawak which are working closely with relevant government departments such as Welfare Department, local councils, TUDM (Royal Malaysian Air Force), armed forces, Bomba (Fire and Rescue Department) and ADUN Service Centres,” he added.
The elected representatives including Members of Parliament (MPs), he added, were to identify those eligible for the food aid, procure the food and deliver the aid with the help from ADUN Services Centres, People’s Volunteer Corps personnel and so on.
“I have made it very clear (that) those who are entitled to be assisted must be assisted,” he emphasised.
Awang Tengah however admitted there are obvious geographical challenges especially in rural and remote areas, which is why the Air Force, Bomba and Hornbill Skyways assets were deployed to assist and support the distribution efforts.
“In hard-to-reach areas, we understand that they have go through various obstacles to reach the communities by using boats and logging roads. Of course in the process, there will be those who feel left out,” he noted.
As such, he urged those with information of needy families not listed to receive food aid to submit their information to the State Disaster Management Committee or district level committees and Resident Offices.
As for the additional but small funding from the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma), Awang Tengah disclosed that the State Disaster Management Committee has been urged to use it with focus given to monthly welfare recipients under the state welfare list.
“This also includes the urban poor and possibly the workers who lost their jobs during this crisis period,” he added. — DayakDaily