Volunteer workers distributing food aid in Kuala Lumpur.

PETALING JAYA: Volunteer groups are complaining of difficulty in carrying out their aid and care work because of ever-changing government procedures.

Ananti Rajasingam, who runs the Yayasan Chow Kit movement, said the government agencies involved apparently had no clear guidelines to refer to.

She told FMT that the movement, which distributes aid to the needy in Kuala Lumpur, had been going back and forth between the police, Social Welfare Department (JKM) and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), all of which had different responses.

Ananti said Yayasan Chow Kit wrote to JKM headquarters in Putrajaya just before it was announced that the international trade and industry ministry would issue permits after confirmation from ministries overseeing the different sectors.

“Four days into the lockdown, we have not got a permit from the JKM headquarters,” she said. “They asked us to get approval from the state Welfare Department.”

She said all calls to the Federal Territories’ Welfare Department went unanswered throughout the day, but Yayasan Chow Kit managed to obtain a letter from DBKL that allowed it to distribute aid.

“However, the police say we need to get JKM’s approval. We are now just stuck.

“We had planned to distribute groceries because a lot of families have been asking us for food aid,” she said.

Social activist Hayati Ismail told FMT she faced the same problem, with none of the state Welfare Departments answering her team’s calls.

She also said there was little information on how to obtain permission for social work.

“We took a shortcut by hiring runners to help us deliver food aid to the places we need to send to,” she said, adding that her team had been using this method since the first movement control order (MCO).

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Hayati said the government should have learned from previous MCOs and developed a better application system, “perhaps online”.

“JKM needs a more systematic and efficient system. We are trying to help people here but face problems,” he said.

Kalaivani Rajeswaran, the founder of post-natal care service Precious 30 Days, told FMT her team was unable to work during the lockdown because the group was listed as a provider of traditional medicine, a non-essential service.

She said it was especially important for urban mothers to have access to confinement care, adding that many of them worked in the Klang Valley, away from their families.

“Their parents cannot cross districts to help them. Our services are also not permitted. This makes it difficult for these new mothers.

“We would appreciate it if the postnatal sector was included among essential services and we were given permission to travel beyond 10km,” she said.

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