Say what you want about Malaysians.
They can be such culprits when it comes to the social media sphere where they tend to be riled up about the slightest attack without verifying the authenticity of the news. They can be so politically savvy – or unsavvy – that within two years the country had three prime ministers. And don’t even any international celebrity or their countrymen make unfair remarks about Malaysian athletes or celebrities, the Malaysian ‘Bawang Rangers‘ will come out in full force to discredit them.
Let a disaster or calamity happen in the country, you will see the united Malaysian spirit comes to the fore in ways we can never imagine. That’s when they put aside their political, racial and religious differences, and come forward as one to help those in desperate need.
The desecration caused by the floods in various parts of the country, specifically in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, is most unexpected. Yet, for every family that is taking shelter – whether on the rooftops of their houses, in shopping centres or mosques and Sikh temples – there are at least two, or ten, people on the lookout for them.
It is obvious that we are not a nation of bystanders. We are not desensitised to the suffering of our fellow Malaysians. Everyone wants to help in whatever way they can whenever there is a cry for help.
Not only during flood or landslide disasters, even during the MCO, the last two years when everyone had to #stayathome, Malaysians looked at ways and means to help those who were trapped in poverty, left helpless and sidelined because they were not allowed on the streets, yet they do not have homes to go too. Some have homes, but do not have the means to purchase food online, so neighbours and relatives sent food and needy items to them. The B40s were helped, the Special Needs community were looked after by the support groups, even the Frontliners were given much love and care by just, other Malaysians.
In the current flood situation that shows how much the government machinery is so unprepared for such an unprecedented disaster where close to 71,000 people are left homeless (with numbers possibly adding on), nine have died so far, and some of those in shelters have been tested positive for COVID, it is these people – whether individuals or non-governmental organisations – who toiled through to send all kinds of aid and support to those crying out for help. They did it within their means, resorted to crowdfunding to purchase essential goods or cooked food, some lent their boats, kayaks and four-wheel drives for rescue works, others just helped in whatever way they can.
“We were thankful for the support from our contributors so that we can ease the burden of those providing the shelters. It was also an opportunity for our special team members to do our part for society, to give back to the community for all they have done for us,” said Adli, who visited the shelters and was moved to tears to see the suffering of the flood disaster victims who have lost almost everything, including their homes.
For the team at Kembara Kitchen, it was work non-stop, for almost 24 hours everyday and ever since the unexpected rainfall went on non-stop last week, although having done relief work for years, they have prepared for this eventuality much earlier, probably even earlier than that of the current government.
In a Facebook posting, YiLyn Chan of Kembara Kitchen wrote: “Oh my heart, I was up until about 2am waiting for a message from Azren Harun. Then I thought that she might have fallen asleep with the phone in her hands. Little did I know, she fell asleep on a work table in Kembara Kitchen. Earlier in the night, she told me not to worry about her. She has packed clothing to stay overnight. She will be comfortable. Then… I see the picture. The other pictures are of volunteers who manned the kitchen through the night in case any evacuees who had nowhere to go needed some shelter or food. All of you are amazing. Thank you so much for being there.”
Kembara has been preparing freshly-cooked food, Hero Meals (ready to eat vacuum-packed food) and essential items and sending them to the various shelters and nearby disaster areas. Although they have been doing this community work for years, this time it is happening so close to home, right behind their centre in Kota Kemuning.
Meanwhile, BeNAR Malaysia‘s Caring BeNAR team decided to assist those affected by the floods but are able to return to their homes, by providing cleaning packs.
“Everyone is sending food and essential items, we are not sure if there are other NGOs and volunteer groups that are also sending to the same places. So we decided to send the aftercare cleaning packs.
“Things that they will help them get their lives back slowly, but surely, albeit in a small way. We know that what we are gathering from contributors and friends may not be much – things like disinfectant and brushes, pails, and other cleaning essentials. But if we can ease their burden for just a little bit, we know we have done our small part,” said Junita Abu Bakar, Treasurer of BeNAR Malaysia.
Yes, Malaysians are an amazing lot. They may bicker on social media and will not hesitate or block those friends who do not agree with their views. But when something bad happens to their fellow Malaysians, they will not hesitate to do their part, with heart and with so much care. Even the King came down to ground zero to look at the devastation and provided aid where needed. Yes, the politicians came, some truly helped, some were just being a nuisance, but whatever the case may be, it is this spirit of being a united one Malaysia that has kept us going for years, through thick and thin, through the best and worst of times.
These efforts, however, have not gone unnoticed by the world at large. Videos on YouTube and TikTok have shown what amazing people we are. Keep it up, people. The spirit lives on. – New Malaysia Herald
Datin Hasnah is the co-founder and CEO of New Malaysia Herald based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
With an extensive background in mass communication and journalism, she works on building up New Malaysia Herald and it’s partner sites. A tireless and passionate evangalist, she champions autism studies and support groups.
Datin Hasnah is also the Editor in Chief of New Malaysia Herald.