Rules are for your safety, senior minister tells aid groups

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya March 19, 2020. — Bernama pic
Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya March 19, 2020. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 — The government’s move to stop non-governmental organisations from sending aid directly to the needy is meant to safeguard their health against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today.

In his daily press conference, the senior minister of defence said the government was grateful for the NGOs’ eagerness to help but was advised by health authorities to stop them from distributing aid as they could be exposed to Covid-19 and spread it unwittingly.

“They have no way of knowing if the aid recipients are free of Covid-19 and might become infected if this is the case. 

“Then they risk spreading it to others while distributing the aid or even to their own families,” he said.

Yesterday, the senior minister directed NGOs and charity groups to send their aid supplies to the government that will then send these out to those who need it.

The groups urged the government to reconsider this by arguing that they have better intelligence about where the aid was most needed.

Yesterday, the senior minister directed NGOs and charity groups to send their aid supplies to the government, which will then send these out to those in need.

The groups urged the government to reconsider this by arguing that they have better intelligence about where the aid was most needed.

Later in the press conference, Ismail said the government was willing to meet with NGOs to discuss the matter further but suggested this be done virtually due to the current social distancing rules in place.

Yesterday, 127 NGOs and charities jointly pleaded with Putrajaya to let them continue working in a safe manner and suggested that the government was underestimating the effort needed to take over their aid distribution.

They acknowledged the authorities’ desire to limit the risk of spreading Covid-19, but stressed that vulnerable groups in the country were extremely at risk because of the movement control order.

Yesterday, Malaysia reported another 159 new Covid-19 cases despite being 11 days into the MCO, bringing the country’s total infections to 2,320 with 27 deaths.

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