"Do you know how many people have to eat nasi dengan kicap in these two or three days that it takes for you to handle this?" <small> Cover image via William Cheah/Facebook YiLyn Chan/Facebook </small>
After receiving heaps of food in donations but not being allowed to distribute them, the founder of a soup kitchen in Selangor heavily criticised the government for not properly planning the Movement Control Order (MCO)
According to Oriental Daily News, Kembara Kitchen founder William Cheah made a live video on his personal Facebook account on Sunday, 29 March, about being caught in a predicament.
The charity had recently received loads of fresh chicken, udon, and dumplings from a local ramen restaurant to be distributed to the poor and needy.
But based on the sheer amount of frozen ingredients donated, Cheah revealed it was difficult to distribute quickly.
As the centre also did not have enough refrigerated storage space, they rented a storage facility at their own expense, preparing and packing the food to be distributed.
However, the government issued a blanket ban on Saturday, 28 March, for all non-profit organisations (NGO) and civil societies to halt their operations during the extended MCO
According to Malay Mail, the government had advised NGOs to instead send their supplies to local Welfare Department (JKM) collection points where the food will then be disbursed by the People's Volunteer Corps (RELA) and the army.
“Now that the government has stated that NGOs are not allowed to give to beneficiaries, I’m fine with that,” explained Cheah in his live broadcast, understanding the need to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
However, what had angered him was when he went to JKM on Sunday to handover his soup kitchen’s frozen supplies, JKM had refused to take the frozen food as they themselves had no place to store them.
“I cannot distribute, JKM cannot take, so what am I supposed to do with it now?” he questioned angrily.
Cheah said he was upset with the government’s overnight decision on Saturday to ban NGOs, without preparation to takeover their role
"When you declare such things, you have to be prepared to take over the supplies," he said, stressing that the JKM officers excuse was that they had no standard protocol to follow-up as it was the weekend.
“Do you know how many people have to eat nasi dengan kicap (rice with soy sauce) in these two or three days that it takes for you to handle this?”
He went on to criticise the government for banning NGOs who assist in the distribution of relief supplies during the extended MCO, as more poor people will go hungry.
Cheah emphasised that he and his family would happily stay home and obey the MCO like other ordinary people, but there are many who need the aid.
“I’m doing this to help the poor, the marginalised, the weak. I’ve been feeding them for the last 14 days [of MCO], are you going to feed them tomorrow?” he asked.
“I am only a small caterer and I want to do my best to help the country, but the government has only given me trouble.”
As a law-abiding citizen, he finally resorted to setting up a drive-through in his Kota Kemuning neighbourhood to give away the food so as to not waste it before the extended MCO is enforced.
The video has gone viral since it was posted on Sunday, gathering over 182,000 views and over 2,000 comments, as of writing
Many netizens had understood Cheah's frustrations and asked him not to lose hope in his efforts to feed the poor and needy.
“The authorities don’t give a damn to the hungry and those who can’t work. I know you guys are also risking your lives during this time to feed the poor,” said a Facebook user.
One user suggested, "The ministry can actually send escorts to help distribute instead of banning them altogether."
“There are pockets of people who needs feeding that will fall through the government process. But the ministers are too far up their ivory towers to see what happens on the ground. They can’t relate.”
Meanwhile, this netizen said, "I hope the authorities take note. Some sort of middle road can be found between those who are willing to serve and those who are in need, with the authorities."</p> <p>Follow Kembara Kitchen on their Facebook page for future updates.</p>
Remember to #JustStayAtHome. Watch the latest update on the COVID-19 situation:
While quarantined at home, you can still help the less fortunate by donating to these few causes:
You can also support local businesses who have been struggling to make ends meet during this MCO:
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