NON-governmentAL organisations (NGOs) contribute significantly to the safety and well-being of commmunities.
These NGOs are indispensable as they dedicate time, resources and expertise to address social issues, protect the disadvantaged and create positive change in society.
Among the NGOs in Penang are 38 voluntary fire brigades that are always the first responders in the event of fire or any other disaster.
When Penang was hit by water supply disruption last month, the voluntary fire brigade members sprang into action by delivering water to the doorsteps of affected residents.
And their relief efforts have not been limited to Penang. Some members even took part in flood relief efforts in Kelantan, Selangor, Kedah, Johor and even Thailand and earthquake-hit Nepal.Good rapport with state
Bukit Bendera Voluntary Fire and Rescue Squad operations commander Teoh Chuang Piau said Penang government had always been appreciative of the organisation’s voluntary work.
“There is a saying in Penang that when the going gets tough, the voluntary fire-fighting squads get going.
“We are happy that the state government values and supports our work.”
He said there were always special allocations from the state or elected representatives for the squad to carry out their duties.
“The state government is always by our side,” said Teoh.
Last month, StarMetro featured PgCare Society (previously known as PgCare Alliance) as an exceptional NGO that collaborated with the state government.
What started as an effort by businessmen friends to help coordinate the distribution of rations during the Covid-19 pandemic has now grown into multiple branches to help Penang citizens after the pandemic.
Together with Penang government, PgCare Society aims to address issues that arose during the pandemic like mental health, food, financial and employment problems.
Among the society’s partner NGOs are D’Home Mental Health Association, Befrienders Penang, Penang Sneham Malaysia Welfare Organisation, Kiwanis Club of Penang, Women’s Centre for Change, Penang Buddhist Tzu Chi Merits Society Malaysia, Hope Worldwide, Home Dynamics, Agape Counselling, Than Hsiang Association and Junior Chamber International Penang.
The alliance also included the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), Malaysian Semiconductor Industry Association, Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Samenta) and Social Security Organisation (Socso).
With Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow as the adviser, the society has received calls from 7,687 people since its inception in 2021.
It hs delivered 1,206 food packs to those in need and successfully referred 95 people for jobs.
Another Penang-based NGO, Rose Charities Malaysia has been collaborating with various state agencies in carrying out activities that benefit the public.
It is at the forefront of getting seniors involved in community programmes.
Its president Datuk Lawrence Cheah said the organisation worked with agencies like Penang Women’s Development Corpora-tion, Penang Water Supply Corporation and Penang Hill Corporation.
He described the relationship between the organisation and the state government, under Chow’s leadership, as “warm, cordial and effective”.
“The collaboration between NGOs and Penang government is highly beneficial in achieving common goals.
“NGOs often possess specialised knowledge, resources and grassroots networks that can complement the government’s efforts.
“While we contribute our expertise, the government, in return, can provide NGOs with access to funding, infrastructure and policy support.
“By working together, the state government and NGOs can combine their strengths and resources to ensure inclusive development,” said Cheah.
“This synergy can enhance the effectiveness of the initiatives, ensuring everyone has access to the support they need,” he added.
Penang Wanita Prihatin Association founder and president Sharifah Noorriati Syed Amirudin said the association had been working closely with state leaders in taking care of the people’s economic needs.
“I have been in this association for 27 years. We have carried out many public programmes and our cooperation with the state government can be described as ‘excellent’.”
Sharifah Noorriati hoped that assemblymen would involve all leaders of NGOs in their meetings.
“They can get input from the grassroots before deciding on policies,” she pointed out.
One Hope Charity and Welfare held a huge health screening carnival at Butterworth Arena last month.
It spent RM1.5mil on the carnival, which offered more than 25 types of free health screenings conducted by professionals.
Its chairman Datuk Chua Sui Hau said the NGO worked closely with the state government to help the needy.
“Over the last 15 years, the government’s policies has helped safeguard the well-being of the people,” he noted.
Aiding those in need
About 10 years ago, a single mother came to see Young Muslim Sports Club (YMSC) president Munower Sadiq Kader Sultan as she was having difficulties with a housing application.
After some hesitation, Munower Sadiq asked for help from Chow, who has been the Padang Kota elected representative since 2008.
“Chow agreed to meet us after the state legislative assembly sitting and assured me that the woman would be given help.
“He told us that as an elected representative, it was his responsibility to help the people in his area regardless of their race, religion or political background.
“I am impressed by his character. He is caring and unassuming.”
Munower Sadiq said Penang government, through the local councils, also granted assessment tax exemption for places of worship and charitable organisations that complied with certain requirements.
“We (YMSC) were given assessment tax exemption not only for mosques but also the madrasah (religious school),” he added.
During Ramadan last year, Munower Sadiq said Chow also provided funds to repair the YMSC premises in King Street.
“An allocation of RM100,000 was given with an additional RM20,000 to fix the roof and ceilings.”
Malaysian Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) Penang secretary-general Datuk Seri N. Gobalakrishnan said Chow had proven his commitment to the development of Little India with the latest attraction – a bright yellow arch.
Built to look like a traditional Indian dome with floral patterns on the side, the arch is illuminated at night, beckoning visitors to the busy Market Street.
Erected at a cost of RM588,226, the arch also has Tamil wording welcoming people to the enclave.
The Little India Arch belongs to Indian traders who are Christians, Hindus and Muslims – that is the beauty of Penang, said Gobalakrishnan.
“We thank the state and Penang Island City Council for the arch and for upgrading roads in the area,” he said.
He also said that the chamber enjoyed a good relationship with the state government.
“Chow is very polite and approachable, and we found him to be one of the best persons to deal with,” Gobalakrishnan added.
Appreciation for NGOs
Chow said Penang government appreciated all the NGOs for their enormous contributions.
“I am grateful we have many NGOs that are working hard to meet needs.
“The role of the state government and government agencies is to facilitate NGOs reaching out to the targeted groups.
“The state government will always prioritise the welfare of the people.
“I am happy to see teams of volunteers from various fields who show willingness to serve the community,” added the Chief Minister.