Week 4 - Helping others is the way to help ourselves

Week 4

As we have now entered the third week of the Movement Control Order, the country is being kept in order and running by our front liners—the police force, the armed forces, our medical staff, cleaners and despatch riders. A big ‘thank you’ for all the sacrifices you have made to keep us safe from infection. May you be blessed in abundance.

On the other side of the coin, the financial implications of this order is now fully felt. Those of us who are gainfully employed may be well-buffered and have a job to return to once this order is over. However, the same is not the case with the daily-wage earners. This group of Malaysians are the most affected financially and they include but not limited to taxi drivers, e-hailing drivers, construction workers, and restaurant and stall owners. These people live hand to mouth and many do not have the financial cushion to withstand this big a financial hit.

To ease their burden and that of the Malaysian public, generally, the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional was announced as part of the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package unveiled by the government. This financial assistance will cost the Malaysian government somewhere in excess of RM10 billion.

Banks and other financial providers have also given a moratorium of payment for a period of 6 months—AKPK included. Naturally, many people are worried about their finances. Some of my friends working in small profit-making companies are worried whether they will have a job to go back to or not once this order is lifted.

One such friend is a single mother. She was recently divorced and was also recently retrenched when the company she worked for faced closed down. She spent months hunting for a job, and she was over the moon when she was contacted on 12 March with a job offer that required her to report duty 1 April. However, due to the MCO, she was contacted by the recruitment personnel and was informed that all recruitments have been put on hold, and as such, her employment is too.

She called me and told me about her misfortune. She informed me that she is already defaulting on her loan payments, and soon, her emergency funds will run out too. She is worried about her 3-year old son; what would happen to them if she were to lose the house she is living in. Without a job in hand, she is almost certain that there is no way out.

After listening to her and asking her some basic questions about her payment patterns and outstanding loan amounts, I recommended that she speak to one of our counsellors at AKPK. I explained that while there is a moratorium in place by the banks, she has already defaulted prior to the moratorium, so that privilege may not apply to her. In any case, I advised her to contact her bank to confirm this. I roughly explained the process to get in touch with a counsellor during this MCO, and guided her to AKPK’s website for further information.

Two days later, I got another call from her. This time, she sounded happier. She told me that someone from AKPK had contacted her, and she is in the midst of getting all the information required. Her call made my day despite the “house arrest” I was under.