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Malaysians, the country needs you

26 Mar 2020 / 21:47 H.

    MALAYSIA and 69 other countries are under various movement control orders impacting 3 billion people worldwide. In this sense, we were ahead of most of the world.

    Rather than blaming others, what Malaysians need now is to know how to survive through the movement control order (MCO) period unscathed. Volunteer groups, religious groups, mosques and many others are helping Malaysians cope.

    Mercy Malaysia has set up a psycho-social hotline for those in need of support. I believe Befrienders KL is also providing some assistance in terms of assuaging the fears of those calling in.

    The Ministry of Women, Family and Welfare has reactivated its Talian Kasih after much criticism from all sides, which will serve as a helpline for those being abused, especially with no place to go during this MCO.

    People will begin to lose their jobs and our social security net must be able to cope. Hopefully, Socso will be able to deal with the anticipated strain on its Employee Insurance Scheme plan. This is perhaps a good time for them to start reeducating Malaysians on how to apply for such benefit schemes.

    Should Bank Negara Malaysia’s announcement on loan moratoriums be subject to SMEs and corporations keeping their staff?

    They would have neither control nor oversight. However, HSBC Malaysia has taken the lead to also announce a moratorium on interest and profits for its retail and corporate loans. Other banks should follow suit.

    If a federal bailout is announced, the government should look at setting a rule for companies to keep their staff employed – this may very well be announced on Friday, when the prime minister is supposed to unveil his second stimulus package for all.

    What is needed now are ideas, and the government has opened a Google doc (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe8MYF_L0Dz9iMgVoTGgx7luVZXMpKyD27vqOjsvOQkCSagRA/viewform) allowing Malaysians to contribute their ideas on what they think needs to be done to keep the economy running.

    Should people withdraw their EPF savings at RM500 a month to cope with the current MCO?

    It depends – that is up to the people who wish to do so, the choice is there. Just like the choice is there for those who want to buy a house, or get sick and need to be wheeled into an EPF office on a stretcher for their thumbprint, or even to continue their studies.

    While most of us don’t wish to touch it, some might think the extra RM500 would help them order a fridge on Lazada for their rural relatives, who can no longer go out daily to buy groceries, especially with the online marketplace throwing a birthday bash on Friday.

    Some may even see it as having the ability to donate RM500 a month to help fundraising efforts to feed the poor or the frontliners, and some may see it as another avenue to send cash back home to their parents after they lost their jobs.

    Unfortunately, there are those who can’t seem to put politics aside.

    Meanwhile, the state of Perak has already announced that all assemblymen will be getting emergency funding regardless of their politics. There are politicians and there are statesmen, and in times of crisis the distinction is made very clearly for all to see.

    Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Penang have announced emergency measures for their people.

    Pahang civil servants have agreed to take a pay cut for the next two months, while their mentri besar and executive councillors have announced taking a 10% pay cut for the same period.

    All around the country, the zakat offices have started issuing funds to the poor. In Perlis, the funds are for all the poor people in the state and not just Muslims. This was announced by Perlis Mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin last year. Hopefully, if the situation worsens, our religious bodies will step up to the challenge rather than look after their own flock.

    What is needed now is for Malaysians to listen and live according to their higher nature – for those with disposable income, help the needy or relief efforts.

    Help your neighbours if needed – it could be as small as offering some detergent or even opening up your washer and dryer for others to use since self-service laundromats are closed.

    Some have gone on Facebook Live to host concerts. Others are being resourceful and sharing information in creatively, while others are putting their ability to raise funds and negotiate with suppliers to get deals for frontliners. And those of us who have no such ability, well, we can give RM10, RM50, RM100 or whatever we can spare to those who have such talents to the benefit of others.

    We can complain and scream our discontent, but let’s keep it for later.

    Life goes on. Buy what you need, check your online options to limit your contact with others, and stay vigilant. Observe social distancing and whatever else is being enforced.

    For now, Malaysians, the country needs your undivided attention and unity in keeping its people alive and healthy. So contact your MPs, state assemblymen, friends, social media groups, and see who needs help and how you can contribute.

    This country, its poor and marginalised communities, the refugees, those who had no steady income earlier – they all need you to step up and do something to help them. So, help them in any way you can.

    Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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