Malaysians, the country needs you

Hafidz Baharom


LETTER | Malaysia, along with 69 other countries, IS now in the state of lockdown or a movement control order (MCO), impacting three billion people worldwide. In this sense, we were ahead of most of the world.

Rather than place blame, what Malaysians need now is to know how to survive through the Movement Control Order (MCO) unscathed. With the news ripe with triggering fear, there is also hope from volunteer groups, religious groups, mosques and all that are helping Malaysians cope in terms of supply.

Mercy Malaysia has even set up a psychosocial 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 their 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 are and will lose their jobs to which our social security net must be able to cope. Hopefully, Socso will be able to deal with the claims about to be put forth to their Employee Insurance Scheme plan. This is perhaps a good time for them to start re-educating Malaysians on how to apply for such benefit schemes.

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

They would have no 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 - that may very well be announced on Friday, March 27 when the PM is supposed to unveil his second stimulus package for all.

What is needed now are ideas, and the government has opened a Google doc allowing Malaysians to contribute their ideas of what needs to be done to keep the economy running.

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

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 enough to 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 the 27th.

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, such as the state of Selangor and even the federal government for that matter.

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

At the same time, states such as Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor, Pulau Pinang have announced their emergency measures for their people.

Pahang civil servants have agreed to take a pay cut for the next two months, while their MB and exco have announced taking a 10 percent pay cut for the next two months.

All around the country, the zakat establishments have started issuing out funds to the poor. For the state of Perlis, it is for all and not just the Muslims as determined by their mufti in 2019. Hopefully, if situations get too dire, our religious bodies will step up to that challenge rather than look after their own flocks.

What is needed now is for Malaysians to listen and cater to the better angels of their 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 with talents have gone on Facebook Live to host concerts. Others have gone to spreading information, 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 abilities, 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 yell 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 and 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, your assemblypersons, your friends, your social media groups and see who needs help and how you can contribute.

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

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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