#benderaputih: There Is Nothing Wrong In Asking For Help

When a student ‘stole’ money from the college’s mosque a few years ago, the internet went crazy. However, it is after the realisation that the boy left a message near the moneybox that netizens started feeling empathy and sympathy for him. The note read:

Peace be upon you. I borrowed the donation money of RM7.75. I am sorry as I did not eat for three days because I do not have money. If God wills, I will repay it back as soon as possible. I am one of the college’s students. Thank you. May Allah bless all of you. Please pray that I will be strong[1].

Source: Sajagempak

The boy saw no way around it and needed money to survive – and he resorted to stealing, with a conscience.

Earlier this year, a housewife was caught shoplifting at a hypermarket by the security guard during MCO 2.0. Her loot? A total of RM58 in value which consisted of sausages, pandan cake and fever relief pads. It is a small value for most people but for the housewife, it was her family’s survival. The Petaling Jaya police which handled the case decided to close the case and delivered essential items to her house personally[2].

Source: Malay Mail

The Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) reported that the poverty rate shot up to 8.4% in 2020 from 5.6% in 2019[3].

Those who are already financially vulnerable prior to the pandemic are facing a dire situation of survival. Many have lost their jobs and their livelihood has been impacted as a result of the series of lockdowns. 

Mydin managing director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin said it broke his heart when people started stealing necessities like mackerels instead of luxury stuff. He also mentioned how the demand for instant noodles had risen.

Do you think this is because the people are too lazy to cook? No, it’s because people cannot afford to buy anything else. – Mydin managing director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin[4]

Source: Borneo Post

Since the pandemic began, the phrase “unprecedented times call for unprecedented action” has been used on multiple occasions. Although the words can be interpreted negatively, they serve as a comfort blanket for most citizens to help them get through these challenging times.

#benderaputih was started out of a desire to work together to fight the pandemic and defend the people, and it quickly gained traction. Food banks are established, food packs are distributed, some restaurants and stalls offer free meals to the needy, students are tutored for free, and others strive to assist in any way they can[5]

Source: Malay Mail

However, just as quickly #benderaputih comes in a positive light, it also falls quickly to the scepticisms and prejudices. 

Here are the most crucial things that everyone should know: 

  • It is perfectly okay to seek assistance when you are in difficulty. When you have tried everything and come to a halt, extend your hand to show that you need help to get out. In this season you may be asking for help, in the next season, you may be helping others out.
  • From a religious standpoint, there are no religions or beliefs that teach you to accept your fate without considering all of your options. Asking for assistance does not make you any less of a person than you already are. 
  • Give anything you can to support #benderaputih, whether it is identifying individuals, houses, or groups in need of assistance and notifying the related organisation, donating for programs in the name of #benderaputih, providing physical labour, or spreading the words about #benderaputih. We are Malaysians – let’s stand together and for each other. 

Here’s a list of individuals or organisations that you can contribute to or find help.

Written by Nurzati Amani Abdul Aziz and edited by the Wiki Impact team.

Explore Our Sources:

  1. BT. (2020). ‘Minta Maaf Saya Pinjam Duit Tabung Masjid RM7.85, Dah 3 Hari Saya Tak Makan’ – Penuntut Kolej. Saja Gempak. Link. 
  2. Lim, I. (2021). PJ police chief delivers food aid to housewife caught shoplifting amid MCO 2.0 hardships (VIDEO). Malaysia. Malay Mail. Link.
  3. Free Malaysia Today. (2021). Poverty rate shoots up to 8.4% in 2020. Link. 
  4. Ang, M. V. (2021). Mydin Shares That People Are Now Stealing Fish & Vegetables Instead Of Electronics. SAYS. Link.
  5. Lim, I. (2021). Facing #BenderaPutih, Malaysians help each other with free meals, food baskets, free tuition, listening ear. Malay Mail. Link. 

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