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By Adrian Lim
KUCHING, July 6: Sarawak People’s Aspiration Party (Aspirasi) president Lina Soo believes the White Flag movement to signal pleas for food aid, is an indication of the government’s failure to eradicate poverty.
Soo asserted that poverty eradication is always a government’s first responsibility but she opined, the Sarawak government has failed the people as seven of the top ten poorest districts in Malaysia are found in Sarawak namely Pakan, Lubok Antu, Song, Kanowit, Selangau, Simunjan and Daro.
“It is not surprising many see the White Flag campaign as indicative of the government’s failure to eradicate poverty in Sarawak.
“It is disgraceful that after almost six decades of the same administration, it failed to lift Sarawak’s poor above the poverty line.
“If we compare our oil and gas production with other oil producing countries, we should be top in terms of income per capita and have hoarded big cash reserves, yet Sarawak’s rural population is languishing in perpetual poverty with being denied access to basic services such as clean water, electricity, healthcare, better education and Internet.
“In towns and urban areas, so many lack access to sustainable livelihoods and entrepreneurial opportunities that we have a brain drain where talents go overseas to seek a living.
“In a pandemic where the poor are most affected, the government’s failures are accentuated, and it is no surprise the While Flag campaign took off with such resounding response which reverberated throughout the country, that the people are inclined to presuppose that the White Flag signals the government’s failures to take care of its people,” Soo said in a press statement today.
She also believes the intense and compelling response generated by the White Flag campaign has also given rise to a groundswell of opposition against politicians and political parties who have exploited the situation to gain political mileage out of the suffering of the people.
Soo pointed out that a caring government should have the mechanism to provide food items to the needy where it is needed most immediately.
Hence, she supported the White Flag campaign because it immediately directs food assistance to where it is needed most.
Meanwhile, Soo also applauded the many coffee shops and food outlets, private individuals and civil groups who have rallied to provide free lunchboxes and opened up food kitchens to ease the suffering of the needy.
She had observed that many private initiatives such as giving away free fish and vegetables have been launched.
She opined that these generous givers, who have been distributing food aid with discretion are exemplary acts of Sarawak’s “unsung heroes and heroines”. — DayakDaily