#benderaputih movement spreads to Kuching

KUCHING (July 1): The #benderaputih (white flag) movement has spread to Kuching, with several houses spotted with white flags indicating the occupants’ cry for food and essentials assistance during this pandemic.

Among the areas spotted with white flags is Lorong Foochow 1T, Chawan Road, where many of those migrating from rural areas to the city have called home for many years and are living on daily-paid wages.

Noni Umpik, 57, was one of those spotted with a white flag and she related how difficult life has become during the Movement Control Order (MCO) as they struggle to pay for house rent and to buy food to put on the table.

She said she was encouraged to raise the white flag to make others aware of her family’s predicament.

“It is so hard to get enough salary during this MCO. For example, my husband is a daily paid labourer who only gets paid when he is called to work. He is paid RM40 per day, and would only receive the money when he is working and there will be no money when he is not at work,” she said.

Hailing from Kampung Mangka in Samarahan, she and her husband have been living at Lorong Foochow 1T for 13 years where they are renting a house at RM300 per month.

She added due to lack of earning, they are now running late in paying rent and depend on food baskets sent to the family and those received during charity programmes to ensure they have enough to eat.

“Sometimes I work at the temple nearby for several days to supplement my husband’s salary, and at times I could get RM400 per month. But, it is so hard nowadays.

“So, whenever there is charity programme where there are food donations, I would go there. I don’t feel ashamed in doing it.

“It is better to do that than asking for loans from people,” she said.

Asked how long the food basket would last, she said it is often not enough especially since she also has to feed her grandchildren who would stay with her when their parents are working.

“We are really struggling now. That is why I am hoping there is more assistance for people like us to help us survive and relieve some of our financial stress,” she said.

Another house spotted with a white flag is home to 45-year-old labourer Peter Lim @ Mohd Faizal Abdullah and his family.

Faizal said life is a struggle now as he has not had any work for the last two months due to the MCO. As such, he raised the white flag so that necessary aid can be given to his family.

“The last time we received government assistance was two weeks ago. We have also applied for financial assistance but so far no favourable response.

“I have no work, no income. Sometimes I have to ask for financial support from relatives,” he said.

He added he tried to apply for assistance under Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN) and Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) but his application was not approved.

“Being in my position, I lack information and access to such financial assistance. I hope some assistance can come soon,” he said.

Malaysians on social media have come up with the #benderaputih (white flag) movement for those in dire need of food and essentials to indicate this to neighbours without needing to beg for help.

The movement suggested that those who desperately needed assistance fly a white flag or cloth outside their homes, which would let those able to help know which households could be facing extreme difficulties.

The initiative arose amid growing reports of Malaysians being pushed to their breaking points by the near-total and indefinite closure of the economy due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii could be seen on his Facebook page delivering aid to several houses which raised the white flag.

In a post, he said his team was contacted by a group of families that lived in a workshop area requesting for help as they did not have enough to buy food for their families because the head of their families worked as daily-paid labourers.

“Since implementation of the MCO, they are not allowed to work and thus have no income to buy food for their family. Many of them have little children among them as well.

“So we responded to their call for help and try our best to provide for them from our own resources and kind donations from the public. We may not have much, but we will try to do as much as we can,” he wrote in the post.

In an earlier post, he wrote that for constituents of P195 Bandar Kuching, they do not need to put up a white flag if in desperate need of help for food, but to contact his office and they will try their best to help.

-- Source: Borneo Post

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