Don’t neglect aid to indigenous communities, govt told

Longhouse in rural Sarawak (TrekEarth Pic)

By Emma Victoria

MANY indigenous communities in longhouse are not aware of the various financial aid announced by the federal government following the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Most of them are neither a Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) recipient nor a taxpayer, hence their names will not be in the Inland Revenue Board (IRB), said human rights activist Peter John Jaban.

Besides, it is also impossible for those in longhouse in the deep interiors to apply the financial aid under the Prihatin Package as they don’t have the means to go online.

“The situation in Sarawak is different, the indigenous people in remote parts of the state would be left out in terms of receiving the one-off payment, even though they are also Malaysians.

“The government must come up with a better way to distribute cash aid and ensure the villagers get their fair share,” he said in a statement.

Otherwise, the Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin would be regarded as having failed to fulfil the promise that no Malaysian would be left out.

He said there is a need for a special village-level committee on disaster management to assist the registration of applicants with the IRB.

For those without a savings accounts, the district offices should be responsible to deliver the cash aid to recipients.

He also claimed that rural communities had expressed their frustration and disappointment over the dwindling supply of essential food items, daily necessities and cash, as well as their inability to access medical, banking and other essential services.

“I welcome the state government’s initiative to distribute food aid to the people during MCO, but they must ensure the aid really reach the targeted groups.

“Besides, food and essential items must be distributed based on the number of the family member in each household. Those needy families should receive more,” he added.

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