KUALA LUMPUR – Saddened by the plight of the Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees who have been stranded at sea for months with little food, water and shelter, Better Malaysia Foundation (BMF) chairman Tan Sri Vincent Tan today initiated several efforts, through the foundation, to provide humanitarian aid to the the boat people.
Two trucks carrying 10 tonnes of goods, comprising 1,000 cartons of dry ready-to-eat foodstuff, mineral water and medicine are underway to Langkawi, to be loaded onto Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) or navy vessels for distribution to the refugees who are still at sea.
BMF will also likely assist Malaysian Medical Relief Society (Mercy Malaysia) with medical supplies and providing support to their medical team who plan to board the navy vessels to visit the stranded boats carrying the refugees.
Meanwhile, another truckload of supplies will be despatched to Alor Star, Kedah to be distributed to the refugees currently housed at the immigration detention depot in Sik.
Meanwhile, BMF also launched a used clothes collection drive from the public and staff of the Berjaya Corporation group of companies (BCorp Group), of which Tan is the founder.
For the next two weeks (May 22 to June 7), anyone wishing to donate their used clothing for the refugees can drop them off at Berjaya Times Square Kuala Lumpur Lower Ground (East Wing) Side Entrance (next to the 7-Eleven outlet) from 10am â€“ 9pm daily.
Donated Items such as T-shirts, pants, shorts, sarong, children’s clothing, as well as blankets and towels, should be in good condition.
“We sympathise with the plight of the stranded refugees and I hope that through these few immediate initiatives, we can alleviate their suffering somewhat. I would like to urge everyone to do their bit, no matter how small the contribution,” Tan said in a statement.
He also applauded the Malaysian government’s decision on Wednesday to afford temporary shelter to the 7,000-odd refugees still stranded at sea.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak has since directed the navy and the MMEA to carry out search and rescue operations to bring the stranded refugees to shore.
“I am gratified that our government has decided to take them in on humanitarian grounds. Although it will surely cost us greatly in terms of money, time and human resources, I am convinced it is the right thing for us to do as the lives of these unfortunate people, which are at high risk, would now have a chance to be saved.”
“By giving these people, who are stranded on the high seas a life-line, we show the world that once again Malaysia has risen to the occasion to offer humanitarian aid, when it is most needed.
“This is something every Malaysian can be proud of, and it adds to our previous record of similar humanitarian acts such as when we took in thousands of Vietnamese boatpeople fleeing from the communists in the 1970s, Cham Muslims from Cambodia when Pol Pot was committing genocide, and Bosnians during the Bosnian war.
“As such, our government’s change of heart to help the refugees despite obvious concerns about financial costs and national security is most praiseworthy,” he added. – The Sun