KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has urged the government to loosen restrictions on NGOs and civil society bodies distributing food aid to the needy during the extended movement control order (MCO) period.

He said it was unreasonable to expect the Welfare Department to completely take over the distribution of all aid such groups have collected.

“Say, for example, one district has 10 officials, it is impossible to expect all 10 of them to handle the distribution for everyone in the area,” Anwar said in a Facebook Live session.

He suggested that charity groups instead register with their respective district offices or even with the police district headquarters and the local authorities in order to continue their aid work.

“Now under the Health Ministry there are 10 NGOs, including Mercy Malaysia, the Islamic Youth Movement, the Ikram Foundation, and several Buddhist associations. But they are limited in how many people can be reached out to, which we need to assist them with immediately.

“Since these bodies conduct their work via volunteerism channels, it would be more effective if they were granted some funds to do so, as opposed to relying on the entire government machinery to distribute food aid,” Anwar said, adding that is also not the time to be distributing aid for political mileage as the rakyat desperately need help now.

He also stated his agreement with the government’s instructions for the public to remain home and not venture out if possible, adding that he would not hesitate to support sterner action against those who violate the MCO.

Yesterday, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob maintained that NGOs were not to distribute aid independently and should send their food donations to the Welfare Department for redistribution

He said this was done on the advice of health authorities for the protection of the NGO members and others.