Hampering NGOs and Ku Nan's RM2 million pocket change - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, March 30, 2020
Malaysiakini : "The fact that certain communities remain underserved shows that they have existed long outside the government's radar." - Kampung Tunku assemblyperson Lim Yi Wei
| Defence Minister Ismail Sabri's comments on NGOs distributing food to
the disenfranchised are much appreciated, but telling the NGOs to limit
their movements by leaving it to the state to distribute food is
misguided - but then, what do you expect from this government?
made this rather ludicrous comment “...We can't have part of the
population moving freely distributing food.” This is bizarre because we
already have part of the population - the state security apparatus,
doctors, nurses, other essential service workers, and the myriad of
state operators - moving around carrying out duties which are deemed
the reportage: “When contacted, an aide to Ismail reiterated that NGOs
were not prohibited from contributing their services. Taking into
consideration the risks faced by NGOs, the aide said Ismail had issued
the advice for donations to be channelled through the nearest state
Social Welfare Department office.”
In other words, these NGOs,
which have myriad methods of collecting donations, would now have to
centralise their collection methods, then channel them to the government
agency, which would then distribute them to the relevant people. This
is even not taking into account that NGOs serve localised communities,
who are most probably never on the radar of the state.
make any sort of sense, to anyone? It is times like these that being a
global kleptocracy could come in handy. While the narrative, especially
in the far-right blogosphere, is that of “Chinese” robber barons milking
the country, where are all the Ku Nan, who think two million is a
is the Perikatan Nasional (PN) regime hijacking and hampering relief
efforts by NGOs distributing food when it has acknowledged that there
have been disruptions in the food supply chain? The PN government keeps
asking the rakyat for money but where are all the kleptocrats who have
dipped into the cookie jar when the country is in need? You can
bet your last ringgit that while these charlatans are hoarding their
stolen loot, they still have time to fund the efforts of the various
outsourced thugs who carry on the racial and religious provocations of
their employers and engage in open online warfare while the majority of
the rakyat suffers.
The Social Welfare Department, meanwhile,
issued this statement: "To ease the process of managing donations, the
Women and Family Development Ministry will mobilise its officers from
agencies under its purview."
In other words, more bureaucracy is
going to be added to a problem, instead of allowing the stable
distribution of food to people who have become comfortable with NGOs
delivering food. Instead, the state will march up to your doorstep and
deliver food that you may not exactly need because the state has no idea
of the complexities of what individual communities or people need.
The always reliable Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim (above)
said: "I'm not just saying this, but as director of Penang 'Lawan
Covid-19', I see how our frontliners are exhausted. And now you're
asking them to arrange the logistics of collecting, stock-taking and
distribution of supplies?” Which is correct but more importantly,
demonstrates how the government does not really think things through.
off, I consider NGOs that work closely with disenfranchised communities
as being part of the frontlines in this war. I do not mean Twitter
activism or any of that nonsense of “paid activists” but rather
organisations – mostly loosely affiliated – working on the ground
improving the lives of marginalised communities even before the
While some of these organisations only sprung up in this
time of need, others have done the groundwork and have the goodwill of
disenfranchised people who they have helped for years. The government
intervening on “health” concerns does seem logical, but as I stated
above, this all depends on what you consider “essential” services.
the police, Rela and other affiliated personnel would best serve the
community by cautioning and advising folks to abide by the movement
control order, the distribution of food, especially to communities that
have been neglected for years by the state, should be left to NGOs and
Deciding that the state should be the only one
distributing aid to the disenfranchised is problematic for a variety of
reasons. The first is that the state is already grappling with the
logistics of food distribution and figuring out how to manage services
and the assortment of affiliated industries linked to food production.
Sim rightly pointed out, throwing another responsibility to state
operators already bogged down with conflicting orders, or not well
thought out orders from the political class, is merely causing more
stress to the bureaucracy.
Look at it this way. The government
wants to set up a distribution centre where the NGOs deliver food and
then the government delivers the food to residents. In other words, the
government wants to be the middleman for some odd reasons.
the government wants to do as the “middleman” is send out its own
personnel delivering food that the NGOs collected. So what is the
difference between agents of the state delivering food and NGOs?
if the state was really concerned about the health practice of these
NGOs, they could set up guidelines which must be strictly adhered too.
This is important, and if the government was thinking things through
instead of suddenly coming up with trigger happy proposals, this would
And let us face the facts here. Because everything
is based on race and religion in this country, many disenfranchised
people will think that they do not “qualify” for aid or would think they
are being left out by the bureaucracy.
In most civilised
countries, the rakyat, through individuals and NGOs, are working with
the state to ease the burden of frontliners and the general population.
You can watch stories of them online in news reports. Here in Malaysia,
the state wants to add another layer of bureaucracy and control the way
how the rakyat helps itself.