The poor need food, not politics

The MCO has made a lot of rich people poor and poor people poorer. That’s how it all seems to be.

Otherwise, why would almost immediately after its announcement on March 28, so many rich people were moaning about losses and demanding for aid, compensation and moratorium?

Can’t blame them, though, because business stoppage means the economic wheel comes to a grind. Where would employers get the money to pay for workers who don’t work and produce?

But the government, the Muhyiddin government, that is, is quite prepared. It rolled out RM250 billion and then followed this with billions more.

Nervous Malaysians heaved a sigh of relief because all the 22 months before Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin stepped into Putrajaya (when his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was still torn between whether he should remain interim PM or return as eighth PM) they were told Malaysia had to sell its assets because money was running low.

But when Muhyiddin arrived, presto! There was money. Lots of it!

Today we are close to a month into the MCO. The authorities are putting measures in place to mitigate the pains of the ‘stay at home’ directive.

In areas well-connected by roads, distributing essential stuffs such as rice, cooking oil, salt and sugar is really how you want it to be. It can be a breeze if the distribution is not politicised in petty ways by the opposition.

It is petty when the opposition insist on being seen as the ones giving out the food aid to the extent of demanding to be allowed to move freely during the MCO. What crap!

Dr Mahathir is right that the pandemic is not the time to seek popularity. It’s not play-acting. It’s not making a mountain out of a molehill to make the other party look bad. It’s not about creating a lie to look like the truth so that your opponent looks bad and you a hero. The government of the day has the moral duty to save the people and the country from the real life-threatening crisis.

So just let the authorities do what they think is best. The opposition should stay at home and be like all other law-abiding citizens instead of ranting and finding faults with how the food aid is being distributed.

Here in Sarawak, it does look like no truly deserving needy case is going to be left out of the food aid loop.

Indeed, the real task at hand is getting all that food aid to quickly reach those badly in need of them.

So far decisions are team decisions, made by and in consultations with professionals, enforcers, distributing agencies, transporters and ground crews. Rest assured those who may be overlooked will be given their dues, if not now, later. There are ways to make sure no one is left behind.

A recent allegation against Nangka assemblyman Dr Annuar Rapaee, for example, not only showed how unfair the opposition could be but also how transparent and efficient the GPS has been. The opposition dared not come to find out how the aid money was being handled when Dr Annuar invited them over for a briefing. See how truth can hurt? That is why the opposition fear it!

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing had also been accused by his detractors of not helping his Pelagus constituents during this MCO.

Of course, the accusation was baseless because Masing even made sure that Pelagus’ furthest settlement, some four hours by timber tracks on a fine day, also received the government food aid.

To me Masing said, “In some sections of the timber tracks we had to use tractors to clear the routes to enable our food trucks to pass through. That’s how tough it was, but we had to achieve our main objective of getting the food through, which we did.”

Someone on social media said, “That was a great show (referring to photos of politicians unloading rice bags from trucks and carrying them on their shoulders to be given away). In the city you can do that, but you haven’t seen what it is like in villages that can only be reached via rivers and timber tracks.”

To his critics, Masing said, “If you are not in a position to assist by giving the funds, the least you can do is to identify the families in your ‘kawasan’ (constituency) who are in need of assistance. (But) do not play politics if you really want to help our people.”