KUALA LUMPUR: At the gate of a picket and brick home in Sungai Way New Village, Petaling Jaya, a white flag hung limply on a lengthy stick.
Mr Jambu Nathan Kanagasabai, 64, put up the flag on Thursday (Jul 1) morning after seeing a put up by a native retail chain providing meals hampers to these in determined want of help.
Shortly after that, passers-by took discover of his plea and alerted the native village committee.
“The committee chairman offered my father some cash, but he just needed food because ‘segan’ (ashamed),” Mr Jambu Nathan’s daughter Vani advised CNA.
Mr Jambu Nathan, his spouse and his sister share a home on the Malayan Emergency-era settlement. He used to earn about RM1,300 (US$312) month-to-month as a safety guard for a goldsmith store.
With that cash and small contributions from his kids, he may afford to purchase meals and pay for lease, utilities and his spouse’s treatment.
This earnings vanished in the course of the first motion management order (MCO) final 12 months to curb the unfold of COVID-19 as the store was shut as a non-essential enterprise. And this was repeated in the course of the subsequent two MCOs and the current first phase of the National Recovery Plan.
“I received RM500 through the government’s Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat handouts, but RM450 of that goes towards rent,” Mr Jambu Nathan mentioned.
Vani, his daughter, mentioned they may not afford to give him the identical amount of cash as a result of they had been additionally dealing with monetary difficulties due to the pandemic.
Her electrician service enterprise was not permitted to function and he or she has to care for her personal kids and in-laws.
“We thought at first this year might get better, but it has just been worse and worse,” Mr Jambu Nathan mentioned.
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Mr Jambu Nathan was a type of whose livelihoods have been severely affected by the various levels of lockdown in Malaysia since final March. On Jun 1, a whole lockdown for all the nation was enforced and many parts of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur had been positioned below stricter curbs starting Saturday.
A motion calling for these in determined want of help to fly a white flag as an SOS call started gaining momentum on social media final week. Members of the general public who see a white flag are inspired to step ahead to provide help.
Heart-wrenching accounts of people that have depleted their financial savings due to the pandemic and have to elevate a white flag to call for help have since surfaced.
Despite this, the motion has additionally raised eyebrows, with some politicians denouncing the act of flying a white flag, which historically symbolises give up.
“I’M NOT SHY TO ADMIT”
Another Malaysian who has put up a white flag was Mr Lim Boon Wah, 65, who lives in Kampung Chempaka, Petaling Jaya together with his spouse Wong Ah Yuen, 61.
“I’m not shy to admit, I don’t have savings anymore,” he advised CNA.
He put up the flag on Thursday morning after his associates alerted him of the motion.
When CNA met the couple at their home, a girl got here to hand them some money, whereas two workers from the aforementioned native retail chain confirmed up with a care package deal.
Earlier, state assemblyman Siti Jamaliah Jamaluddin and Kampung Cempaka’s village committee chairman Theresa Lim additionally offered them with some dry foodstuffs.
The assist could be enough for the subsequent two months, Mr Lim mentioned, including that they’ve been subsisting on on the spot noodles on daily basis.
“We’ve cleaned out what little savings and retirement funds we accumulated, on account of my illness,” he mentioned.
Mr Lim and his spouse labored as gross sales promoters at a native grocery store in Kuala Lumpur, however after his kidneys failed, he was requested to resign, and his spouse shortly adopted.
Losing their jobs meant that they had to rush to discover cheaper lodging again in 2019 and to survive on their meagre retirement funds.
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At their age and together with her husband’s situation, it was nearly inconceivable to discover any jobs – even menial ones – within the present financial system, which contracted by 5.6 per cent in 2020.
Even with free dialysis organized by a charity, travelling to the centre and the treatment price cash.
Mr Lim mentioned he usually awakened at evening, questioning how they might have the ability to afford the charges and the rental.
“At times, I’ve thought about giving up. It would be simple, just don’t attend a few hemodialysis sessions and just pass away quietly,” he mentioned.
WHAT SPURRED THE MOVEMENT?
Social and political activist Nik Faizah Nik Othman, who’s the deputy chief of the Tumpat Amanah’s girls’s wing in Kelantan, was recognized as one of many earliest Twitter customers to recommend flying a white flag to point out the family wants pressing help.
“I was saddened seeing the suicide incidents taking place every day, hence I started this campaign. I feel these (suicides) should not take place, and indicate something far worse will happen to the country if the issue is neglected,” she advised CNA.
Mdm Nik Faizah added that she didn’t want to see acts of suicide develop into a new norm for the youthful era.
“Hence the idea to get those who are in difficulty and depression to raise a white flag as a call for help came by spontaneously,” she mentioned.
Police statistics confirmed that a whole of 468 suicide instances had been reported nationwide from January to May, and Selangor topped the chart with 117 instances. Three primary causes had been household issues, emotional strain and funds, in accordance to Criminal Investigation Department director Abd Jalil Hassan.
In Tumpat, Mdm Nik Faizah mentioned, some households had flown white flags and acquired help from the general public.
“Even so, many would rather live in difficulty than taking the initiative to fly the flag due to embarrassment, fear of accusations from others and the lack of confidence that they’ll actually receive help,” she added.
Mdm Lim, the village committee chairman of Kampung Cempaka, mentioned the looks of a white flag had come as a shock, as she was already working a meals assist programme distributing dry meals to over 300 households.
“We went on morning rounds to see if there were any flags put up, so when I saw Mr Lim’s white flag, I quickly informed our local city councillor and state assemblyman, and we managed to put together a care package which we passed to Mdm Wong,” she mentioned.
She added that she could be following up with the couple and would focus on how finest to help them with the state assemblyman.
“There are various schemes to help them, so we can help guide them in terms of application, and if more aid is needed, I can still call the charities for help,” she mentioned.
NOT EVERYONE AGREES
Despite the heartwarming tales of individuals stepping up to help fellow Malaysians, some have decried the white flag motion as a type of defeat.
The Kedah state authorities, for occasion, mentioned it might not assist those that put up such flags.
Kedah Chief Minister Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor was reported by Malay-language each day Utusan Melayu as saying that the state authorities wouldn’t recognise utilizing the white flag as a signal of needing meals assist all through the lockdown interval.
The chief minister was quoted as saying that the federal government would solely channel meals assist to those that had formally requested such as by phoning in to the native catastrophe management centres.
He claimed that the white flag was a political propaganda to create the notion that the federal government had failed within the eyes of society.
Bachok MP Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz posted on his Facebook web page, stating that somewhat than elevating a white flag, these in want ought to “raise their hands and pray to God.”
“Don’t raise surrender towards tests by teaching the people to fly white flags,” the politician mentioned, drawing the ire of some netizens.
A non secular ruling posted on the web site of the federal territories mufti’s workplace famous that such an act is permissible if it makes it simpler for these prepared to help to determine needy recipients. “However, if we see it as something that would embarrass us, then it should be avoided,” the article learn.
The article famous that folks in want of help may additionally attain out to those that provide assist instantly. “It is up to each individual’s judgement in implementing the methods and initiatives that one feels comfortable with.”