People gathering in front of the Senadin SUPP premises. They were later told to disperse by the police.

Fake news on food distribution

MIRI: Nearly 100 people, mainly from Pujut, Tudan and Permyjaya areas, thronged the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Senadin branch yesterday morning to collect food rations, but were later instructed to disperse by the police after the situation got out of hand.

Sarawak Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin said the crowd was prompted into gathering in front of the building after seeing a lorry unloading food rations.

Lee, who is also Senadin SUPP chairman, said the food rations had been placed at the service centre to be distributed to about 18 villages and longhouses through village chiefs and village security and development committees (JKKK).

“Senadin SUPP Service Centre has always been assisting our constituents, especially the needy and the underprivileged, and recently we received instructions from the state government for service centres to arrange food aid delivery.

“We had asked the village chiefs and community leaders to send us the name list of villagers under the B40 group who need this aid.

“We have never asked the villagers to collect the rations personally. Somebody must have viralled fake news telling them to come here,” said Lee when contacted yesterday.

He said Senadin SUPP had earlier sought permission from the Welfare Department (JKM) to disburse the food aid here since the department did not have enough manpower.

The incident caught him by surprise, and he said: “I would like to urge recipients to be patient and not be influenced by any unverified messages that have gone viral on social media.”

Meanwhile, Miri OCPD ACP Lim Meng Seah said a police team was deployed to the location around 10am after they recieved a call from Senadin SUPP.

Fortunately, the police managed to disperse the crowd without any incident.

“They were well behaved and listened to our instructions when we told them to disperse,” he added.

The crowd had gathered in front of the premises as early as 8am, and many had no face masks on despite the nation under the movement control order designed to flatten the Covid-19 curve.