“Let us know who missed out on Covid-19 aid so we can help”

Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah

KUCHING, May 28: The state government recognises that some vulnerable, deserving individuals could have missed out on the numerous relief and assistance initiatives rolled out even when intensive efforts have been made to help them cushion the impact of Covid-19 and the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family, and Childhood Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah thus welcomed any specific information on those who need help so that relevant and timely assistance can be extended to them.

“We recognise the fact that despite all the Covid-19-related economic stimulus packages and safety net assistance provided by the (state government), there are some deserving individuals who have been missed out unintentionally, nor benefited from these packages,” she acknowledged in a statement today.

She was responding to a statement by Sarawak Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) Commissioner Dr Madeline Berma, in DayakDaily, highlighting that stateless indigenous people were the most affected and needed the greatest assistance during the MCO.

Fatimah however emphasised that significant efforts have been made by the Sarawak government to deliver food aid for nearly 400,000 vulnerable households including indigenous people without citizenship status in Sarawak which involved an allocation of RM16.4 million.

“The RM16.4 million allocation for the provision of food assistance to the rural and urban poor was an addition to the RM1.15 billion special assistance rolled out under the first of three Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) packages,” she explained.

She disclosed that 380,887 beneficiaries, comprising households in rural and remote areas, the urban poor, the homeless and those who had lost their jobs and are without income due to the MCO and Conditional MCO (CMCO), have received food aid, irrespective of age, gender, race, and religion, including indigenous people without citizenship status in Sarawak.

“Intense efforts were made by the Divisional and District Management Disaster Committees (DDMC) to reach out to the indigenous people of Sarawak even to the most remote areas of Telang Usan, Murum, Mulu, Batang Ai, Meluan, Pakan, Engkilili and Balai Ringin.

“Food was transported by means of helicopter services based on the planned schedule but subjected to the weather conditions and thus some areas received their food aid earlier while others received theirs later.

“However, all distribution was completed by April 25. The relevant non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were also engaged in this process,” she added.

Besides the BKSS food aid programme and the federal funded special assistance for heads of B40 households as well as food aid under the Covid-19 relief fund, Fatimah pointed out that there was also assistance contributed by ADUN and MP Service Centres, the private sector, caring NGOs and kind individuals.

“This helps to ensure that there is food on the table despite all the challenges due to MCO and CMCO.

“Our Ministry recognises the good work and efforts made by the NGOs for the needy in Sarawak before and during the MCO and CMCO period,” she added.

To ensure sustainability in carrying out advocacy work for targeted groups during and post-Covid-19, she highlighted that grants amounting to RM1.3 million were given to 125 NGOs on May 22.

With regards to difficulty in seeking medical treatment due to the inter-district and 10km travel restrictions imposed under MCO and CMCO, she added that the police have given assurance that this will not be an issue.

“The communities living in the interior can go to the nearest hospital irrespective of distance. The inconvenience and hardships brought about by the MCO and CMCO is inevitable.

“Malaysians’ strict compliance to this ruling, including by those living in the interior, has earned Malaysia worldwide recognition for successfully flattening the curve of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic,” she added. — DayakDaily