Civil society groups in Sabah have clearly shown that when united in purpose, diverse groups can achieve remarkable deeds of humanitarian nature, says Mustafa K Anuar.
The current situation in Sabah is very disturbing as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc, causing much pain to the infected, the bereaved and the destitute.
This came about in the wake of the state election recently, resulting in a change of government and a brief commotion about who should be the chief minister.
Since then, we have seen a spike in Covid-19 infections and deaths that require immediate and sufficient medical care as well as other forms of assistance, particularly food aid for the needy.
As of 21 October, Sabah had 58 deaths within one month, which is indeed worrying.
It is heart-warming, though, to learn that civil society groups in the state have risen to the occasion, offering help in distributing aid to various parts of the expansive state where assistance is desperately needed.
The underlying factor that has brought these diverse groups from various ethnic, religious and political backgrounds together for a common purpose is their concern to serve humanity in jeopardy.
Their immediate response to this human suffering is not only commendable, but also necessary in the context where delivery of state government aid was reportedly hampered by the termination of all community developers, village management councils, urban committees, district heads, native chiefs, native chief representatives and village chiefs by the new Gabungan Rakyat Sabah government.
It was felt that such termination of political appointments should not have been done in haste as these community leaders could still have served as crucial contacts for prompt aid distribution, especially in Sabah under the conditional movement control order. At least, for the time being.
The aid distribution is now conducted by the local councils and state and federal agencies.
Such a situation in which political intervention hampers speedy aid from reaching the needy is reminiscent of what happened about six months ago when food baskets were distributed to the needy in certain urban quarters of Kuala Lumpur amid the pandemic.
There was an allegation that aid distribution was impeded by political considerations of the federal government.
Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh complained that at least 54 opposition parliamentary constituencies did not receive aid from the Welfare Department, which had helped to distribute the food aid.
Additionally, opposition MPs in these constituencies were reportedly denied an important role in the effort to ensure prompt distribution of food aid.
This has been said many times by other concerned Malaysians, but it needs to be said again – partisanship must give way to the universal concern for humanity, now in dire straits.
Excessive politicking is a harmful distraction in this context as it can give rise to worsening situations faced by ordinary Sabahans, who not only have to endure the pandemic, but also suffer from a weakened economy.
The civil society groups in Sabah have shown that when united in purpose, diverse groups can achieve remarkable deeds of humanitarian nature.
Certain politicians should look into the mirror to see how ugly they can be in the eyes of ordinary people when they become despicable obstacles to making lives less miserable among ordinary folk amid the pandemic.