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Opposition MP Receives Food Aid Worth Only RM35 Each Instead Of The Promised RM100 Per Bag

The food aid is meant to help struggling Malaysians affected by the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Cover image via Cha Kee Chin/Facebook

A new problem has arisen amidst the ongoing food aid dispute between the ruling government and the opposition.

A Pakatan Harapan (PH) lawmaker claimed that the government-funded COVID-19 food baskets he received do not add up to the promised worth of RM100 each.

Rasah MP Cha Kee Chin said among the 150 baskets of food aid his constituents received, the items inside each bundle cost only RM35 - about three times lower than the official allocation, reported Malaysiakini.

This is on top of the low amount of food baskets Cha's constituents received. The Ministry of Finance allocated funds to distribute 1,000 food baskets worth RM100 each to every constituency in the country.

The food aid is meant to help the B40 lower-income group who is struggling to make ends meet during the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Rasah MP Cha Kee Chin.

Image via Sin Chew Daily

Cha lamented that the rice packets inside each food basket can only last a family of five for a week

"We opened it up when my assistant brought back the food packs (to the office) and the contents were not to our expectation," said Cha.

"The rice has an RM13 price tag on it, the price of oil and bee hoon is between RM2 and RM3 each… the food pack probably cost, at most, RM35."

This has given the Rasah MP a headache when handing out the food aid. He said his team has to explain to recipients that the Social Welfare Department (JKM) had only given them this much of goods.

"The people may mistakenly believe that we only spent RM35 of the RM100 allocation for each food packet," Cha continued.

"They would misconstrue that I or my assistant pocketed (the remaining RM65)."

The food aid distribution programme is under the purview of former PH member Datuk Seri Rina Harun, who is now the Minister of Women, Family, and Community Development (KPWKM)

Image via Astro Awani

On Tuesday, 21 April, Rina announced that 301,451 food baskets have been distributed.

She said the programme will benefit some 1.2 million households, especially those who have no income to obtain their daily needs, reported Bernama.

Former KPWKM deputy minister Hannah Yeoh criticised Rina for allegedly politicising the food aid based on constituencies held by ruling government or opposition MPs

In a Facebook post on Sunday, 19 April, Yeoh posted a list of constituencies held by the opposition.

Among the 80, only the Langkawi constituency - held by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad - received 1,000 food baskets, while the majority did not even receive a single bag.

"Is it true that the food baskets have been given to the heads of the Perikatan Nasional for distribution?" asked Yeoh, suggesting that opposition MPs have been sidelined.

"Sorry to use social media to ask because next month's Parliament session does not allow questions."

Yeoh said she will not blame the JKM officers for not distributing the food baskets as many of them are overworked. However, the Segambut MP said she will hold Rina accountable for this entire fiasco.

Meanwhile, Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai is baffled that over 700 food baskets are still sitting in a hall instead of quickly being distributed to needy Malaysians

This is despite Tan having previously voiced his anger over the inaction by the JKM for the last two weeks, reported Malaysiakini.

"Oh, God! The aid is still here," Tan exclaimed when he visited Bandar Tun Razak Sports Complex in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur for a second time on Wednesday, 22 April.

Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai visiting Bandar Tun Razak Sports Complex in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur on 22 April.

Image via Ng Xiang Yi/Malaysiakini

Over the past weeks, many opposition MPs have expressed outrage over how the ruling government is handling the distribution of food aid, particularly MPs in Penang, reported Free Malaysia Today.

Opposition MPs in Penang said that food aid was channelled to political agents from the ruling coalition, creating unfairness in distribution.

"I think it is not right to trivialise the suffering of the people by politicking with welfare aid. And since it is coming from the Ministry of Finance, it is funded by taxpayers," said Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto.

Citing a JKM officer, Balik Pulau MP Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said only constituencies under UMNO, PAS, and Bersatu in the state were given food baskets.

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Earlier this week, Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai said food aid for Bandar Tun Razak was distributed, but not for his constituency:

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