KOTA KINABALU: The food basket distribution activity in the Kota Kinabalu parliamentary constituency is currently entering its second stage with priority now being given to members of professions whose basic income have been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as taxi drivers, hakwers, and other vulnerable groups.
Member of Parliament for Kota Kinabalu Chan Foong Hin announced so today after having completing the first phase of the food basket distribution activities covering the poorest areas in his constituency with residents living in low-cost housing, flats, and wooden kampung houses.
Chan said with the entering of the second phase, he can now turn towards and help those taking part in economic activities but whose businesses have been severely affected over the past year due to the pandemic and lost their basic income.
Chan, who is also the Secretary of Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sabah, said that the Chairman of the West Coast Taxi Association Wong Nyuk Min had reached out to him last week and had shared the plight of his fellow taxi drivers. Wong had then submitted to Chan a list containing the names of 140 taxi drivers.
Chan then told Wong to inform his members of taxi drivers to only come and pick up the food basket in person from his service centre after being notified.
“Since mid-June, there have been many people walking into to my Kota Kinabalu Member of Parliament’s Service Centre seeking for help.
Whilst we have a no reject policy and that anyone who really needs help can come apply with us for our food baskets, however, I wish to emphasize that every one of them is still required to wait and be notified by a call or SMS before walking into our premises and collect their respective food baskets,” said Chan.
Chan said that the reason for this mechanism is mainly for crowd control and to avoid a swarming of people flocking to the service centre to collect such free supplies of food aid, causing a sea of people and overcrowding.
Even if our intention is to do good, it would defeat the purpose of doing such good if there is overcrowding as it will certainly not help alleviate the pandemic. On the contrary, it will cause a high risk of transmission of Covid-19.
“I seek my constituents’ kind understanding as to why we are required to set such rules, that one has to be notified before one can pick up their respective food basket,” said Chan.
In addition, Chan has also managed to contact the chairman of the KKIA Limousine and Taxi Association Shamsuddin Mohd Shah.
Under his invitation, Chan had paid a visit to the airport taxi drivers’ rest station this afternoon to get a hold of the actual story of yesterday’s incident involving a taxi driver knocking down a person at the airport.
“Just like how evil villains normally have painful backstories and negative emotions behind their actions, it seems to be similarly the case here with the taxi driver who had knocked down a person with his taxi,” said Chan.
Chan said that he was made to understand that taxi drivers have been facing with all kinds of stressful life problems in addition to their reduction in income. They have to face stiff competition from the e-hailing industry making use of new technology platform, being able to offer better quality services at lower fares.
“With tourist arrival at the airport declining for the past two years, most of these airport taxi drivers are basically waiting all day in line at the airport just to earn a pittance of around ten ringgits a day,” said Chan who added that he fully understands the feelings of those facing such predicament.
After listening to the grouses of the airport taxi drivers, Chan had distributed 180 food baskets to these airport taxi drivers and took the opportunity to wish them happy Hari Raya Haji.
Earlier today, Chan had also paid a visit to hawkers at the Dah Yeh market. Traders at open air markets and _tamus_ are undeniably one of those economic sectors that had been greatly affected by the Movement Control Order as they have been subjected to numerous u-turns in SOPs shutting them down, reopening, and then shutting down again.
Such a vicious cycle and uncertainty, over and over again, had greatly affected the income and livelihood of these hawkers. Chan’s team had distributed 33 food baskets to these hawkers, hoping to slightly reduce their burdens.
“My office will not be specially delivering any food baskets to vendors of permanent markets such as Kota Kinabalu Central Market, Foh Sang Market, and Lido Market, as these vendors and hawkers have always been able to operate their businesses under the SOPs being an essential service provider.
In any event, as long as there is a need, these hawkers can still apply for food aid at the Kota Kinabalu Member of Parliament’s Office and we shall process these applications accordingly,” said Chan.