Govt says bound by health concerns in restricting NGOs’ food aid

An aid worker attends to a homeless person in Kuala Lumpur. The government says there are concerns about NGOs giving food and other aid during the movement restriction order.

PUTRAJAYA: Putrajaya says it is careful not to allow various NGOs to distribute aid to those affected by the movement control order (MCO), saying the government is bound by virus containment rules, as advised by the health mnistry.

This comes after several NGOs pleaded with the government to allow them to directly distribute aid such as food.

“The government is really thankful to the NGOs who have come to the forefront to help the people,” Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in his daily briefing today.

“We get advice from the health ministry, so we too want to protect the NGOs. We don’t know if the people they are sending aid to have been infected. We fear that if they get infected, they could infect their families.”

Ismail said he hoped the organisations would understand the rationale behind restricting food aid through non-governmental channels, adding that the authorities would come up with the best way to distribute the food and aid.

Ismail said the government will be liaising with NGOs through video conferencing to get their feedback.

“I have been receiving feedback and ideas since last night,” he said.

The government has announced RM50.8 million worth of food to those who qualify.

“Maybe tomorrow we will announce a new SOP on the second phase of MCO,” he added.

On a separate matter, Ismail said there was sufficient food supply.

Just because certain brands of certain products like rice were not available, it did not mean there was no supply of these goods, he added.

He also thanked hypermarkets, supermarkets and shoppers for adhering to social distancing rules.