Authorities must make it easier for those who want to help distribute food and aid!

It really doesn’t have to be this difficult. And the police need not go to extra lengths to make things even more challenging than they already are.

I just finished giving my statement at IPD Klang Utara together with Mugheelan Sellathoray for allegedly not complying with the Movement Control Order (MCO). This is ludicrous. 

The new circular for lawmakers doesn’t mention that we need to get permission from the Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat but my office always did. We admit that instead of 200 people, some 600 turned up last Sunday but isn’t this an indication of how bad the situation is on the ground.Despite the big turnout, our volunteers managed to do excellent crowd control and also followed protocol: body temperature was checked, sanitisers were made available and there were markings on the floor to indicate the one metre social distancing. They also wore masks and gloves. And as usual, we had JKM’s permission to distribute vegetables and groceries on 27 April but had to do it a day before as the farm produce from Cameron Highlands were sent earlier than expected. 

This was effectively communicated to JKM, who pointed out that they can’t make Rela available at such short notice and was informed that our volunteers would be there.  When the police arrived, while we were distributing food provisions, they said we needed a police permit, an argument that was refuted even by the JKM.

But after my session at the police headquarters was over, I realised that there is a clash of ego between the welfare department and the police, with the boys in blue uniform insisting that a police permit is essential. We have distributed groceries and vegetables to 10,500 families since the start of the MCO in March.  And you know what: we are now told that even vegetables cannot be distributed. I am stumped. Just like myself, many Members of Parliament have been doing an excellent job distributing food provisions to those who desperately need them. And so have the non-governmental organisations plus civil society organisations. 

The police and other authorities should be welcoming these relentless efforts, which are crucial in ensuring people are fed, babies have milk and no one goes to bed hungry. But unfortunately the authorities seem to be throwing obstacles our way and it makes me wonder why.  Could it be because the government has been taking a whack from the public for its inefficiency in ensuring adequate food provisions reach  the poor in time?

Is this highhandedness by the police really necessary? Shouldn’t they be helping us instead? Anyways, I hope that the police will sit together with the welfare department to drum out a proper protocol, as opposed to flexing their muscles unnecessarily. But more than that, I wish the people in power and authority will just let us get on with our work in serving the people that voted for us.

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