Malaysians suffering in a blockade fly a white flag for help

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (AP) — When Mohammad No Abdullah raised a white flag out the window late at night, he did not expect a swift outflow of assistance. By morning, dozens of strangers knocked on his door and provided food, cash, and encouragement.

Malaysia’s national blockade to curb the coronavirus surge became even tighter on Saturday, banning people in certain areas from leaving their homes other than buying food and necessities.

It plunged Mohammad Knoll into despair. He earns a living by selling the popular coconut milk rice dish, Pak Nasiremat, every morning at a street food stall, but his income is gone and government support is inadequate.

The white flag campaign, which appeared on social media last week, aims to help people like Mohammad Knoll, who were born without arms at the age of 29. Coincidentally, he saw the campaign on Facebook and decided to ask for help.

“It was very unexpected. So many people helped, supported and encouraged me,” said Mohammad Knoll, who quickly donated biscuits, rice, cooking oil and water to him. I sat in a dingy room inside the box and said. He offered to help the kind Samaritan pay the rent for his room, and said that assistance should be sufficient to survive him throughout the next few months.

The #benderaputih campaign began as a reaction of Malaysian society to an increase in suicide, which is believed to be related to the financial difficulties caused by the pandemic. Police reported 468 suicides in the first five months of the year. That’s an average of four people a day, up from 631 in 2020 overall.

Social media posts urged people to raise white flags and cloths to let them know that they need immediate help “without begging or embarrassment.” Many food retailers and celebrities responded with offers of help, and many Malaysians ran around the neighborhood to find the white flag.

Thousands of people have lost their jobs since Malaysia enacted curbing various movements, including a state of emergency for the coronavirus, which suspended parliament until August 1. The strict national blockade imposed on June 1 is the second in more than a year.

The number of cases of coronavirus in Malaysia surged to more than 778,000 cases, almost seven times that of last year, and more than 5,400 deaths occurred.

After raising the white flag, the report of the family who received prompt support warmed the hearts of Malaysians. Single mothers and teenage daughters who survived for days on biscuits were fed by their neighbors, and the caring merchants who were about to end their lives received cash assistance to start anew. Myanmar refugee families who survived a once-daily meal were immediately given groceries.

Many welcome the White Flag movement as a sign of unity and solidarity, but not all agree.

Hezbi Islami lawmakers, part of the ruling coalition, raged the public when they told people to pray to God instead of waving a white flag at the time of surrender. The state prime minister has accused the campaign of promoting Muhyiddin Yassin to the government.

It caused an impersonator. The Animal Society has recommended that economically deprived people who cannot afford to feed their pets display a red flag.

Opponents launched a black flag campaign over the weekend, demanding opposition lawmakers and others to raise the black flag on social media to resign the prime minister, end the emergency, and reopen parliament. However, police are reportedly investigating black flag campaigns aimed at sedition, public mischief, and misuse of network facilities for attack purposes.

Muhyiddin, who came to power in 2019 after political tactics destroyed the former Reformed government, faces fierce challenges from the opposition and within his own coalition. His support for leadership cannot be tested with Congress suspended.

James Chin, an Asian expert at the University of Tasmania in Australia, said the white flag movement could fuel public anger at being perceived as incompetent by the government’s ability to manage the crisis. Tasmania.

“The white flag campaign will undoubtedly be used as a major political weapon to show that the government is a major failure,” he said.


AP journalist Syawalludin Zain contributed to this report.

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