When the Covid-19 MCO came into force, my office was caught in a very difficult position. In early March, we had 97% of our community budget slashed by the new government. In short, we had no meaningful money to help our poorest constituents.
Then in early April, a Buddhist group contacted me and offered to fund the community work of my office. The group forwarded RM81,000, of which we distributed RM13,000 directly to welfare volunteers on the ground and to cover PosLaju costs.
My officers, volunteers and I then had two zoom sessions and designed a “contactless” welfare aid program.
We wanted a program that fully comply with the MCO. We wanted a program where recipients don’t have to come to our office (they can’t anyway due to the MCO), where we don’t have to vet them to see if they are in fact poor, and they don’t have to wait in line to receive goods that they do not necessarily need. We also wanted to ensure that we don’t need to buy goods, stock or store goods, no transport and logistical issues and no potential corruption or mark-ups.
The program we finally designed is simple; we will purchase 99 Speedmart shopping vouchers (most low-cost areas have one in the neighbourhood) and post the vouchers to the families.
The key success factor to our program is the solid database of contact details of a few hundred poor families in my constituency. We have been building this database since 2013. All our recipients are thus verified underprivileged and poor. Based on our limited budget, my officers selected those families most in need. My officers then contacted the families by phone to verify their home addresses.
We then bought the vouchers, receiving 2% additional free vouchers from 99 Speedmart. We then bought Pos Laju envelopes, packed the vouchers and sent them out. Using a fixed formula on a per head basis, we ensured the larger families received more vouchers.
This program is also fully accountable because we will receive Pos Laju confirmations that the vouchers were received. In addition, my officers do follow up calls with the recipients too. Most recipients do reply and sent us sms and WhatsApp notes.
All these steps were transparently recorded, and reported back to the donors.
All in, this contactless welfare aid program used RM68,000 and provided welfare aid to 175 families in Subang.
Our deepest gratitude to the generous donors and my personal thanks to my officers, Paul Mae, Ale and Ivan for their dedicated and hard work.