COMMENT | “No one will be left behind” was the kind reassurance from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin when he announced on March 27 the RM250 billion economic “rakyat-caring” stimulus package to protect the people, support businesses and strengthen the economy following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Known as Prihatin, the package was intended to provide immediate assistance to ease the burden of the people and businesses. Following this announcement Malaysians were indeed relieved to have a caring government sensitive to their sufferings from the movement control order (MCO) which saw citizens staying at home and many businesses shut.
When businesses highlighted they needed more support, the government responded with additional financial aid for companies. When movement was severely restricted causing soup kitchens to be abruptly suspended which created hardship for the homeless, this caring government had quickly offered to provide the homeless with shelter and food.
Thus it is evident that the government is indeed sensitive to the sufferings of the rakyat and has gone the extra mile to offer much needed help to all categories of its citizens.
However, amidst this pandemic, another category of victims have also been affected enormously, the silent voiceless ones - the animals.
With people staying indoors and many businesses including restaurants, roadside eateries and daily markets closed, this posed severe hardship to stray animals as their usual food and water supply, scraps and leftover meals from these establishments, are suddenly cut off and they face imminent starvation and dehydration.
A few days ago as I was passing through an empty eatery, I saw several strays looking desperately for food and water but to no avail. A number of them looked thin and malnourished.
Feeling sad for them, I quickly placed some food and water out. I saw how they devoured the cat biscuits due to extreme hunger. After that day, I fed them daily. I was pleasantly surprised and happy to observe in the following days that other kind samaritans had also added more cat food there.
Recently I was forwarded a message asking for donations to procure cat food by a kind Malaysian, Pak Abu, who is volunteering to feed a large number of stray cats around the canteen of a school in Sungai Petani, Kedah. Understanding the plight of the cats, as the canteen is no longer operating and thus there is no food there, my family and I have donated to Pak Abu to help support him in his noble quest.
It is hoped that the government will offer suitable support to prevent these helpless creatures from starving and going without medical treatment for the sick and injured ones.
Countries such as India, Turkey, Greece and Spain have had their governments and NGOs allocate funds and create programmes in an effort to assist stray animals in need during this pandemic.
Malaysia too should allocate some funds, similar to Prihatin, but targeted for strays following examples of these countries.
The government with the support of the relevant veterinary departments and city councils, in partnership with the private sector, could do the following:-
- Develop an online platform listing stakeholders, sponsors and volunteers for food donations and veterinary services for strays and pets whose owners are unable to care for them.
- Support introducing mobile clinics in each state to offer treatment and help to sick and injured strays; establishing a roster to inform the date and location of the mobile clinics.
- Establish feeding programmes by installing feeders in different areas of the city and states to make sure cats and dogs are fed regularly.
- Launch an outreach programme offering animal food to individuals who feed strays in their localities.
In conclusion, I would like to quote Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan who tweeted on April 17 about helping stray animals in this current crisis.
“As the world is coping with the outbreak of Covid-19, we must not forget those without a voice. Let's make sure stray and abandoned animals are treated with care and compassion.”
SHERIFFAH NOOR KHAMSEAH AL-IDID SYED AHMAD IDID is an innovation and nuclear advocate.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.