MIRI: The Society of the Blind Malaysia (Sarawak branch) has appealed to both the state and federal welfare ministries to give top priority in aid disbursement to the 40,000 handicapped folk in Sarawak.
Out of this number, at least 10% are blind.
Society chairman Isak Ngau, who is himself blind, said on Wednesday (March 25) that the society was worried about the visually-impaired and physically-handicapped people in Sarawak as many had no income at all during this Covid-19 outbreak period.
"For almost a month now, those of us involved in the massage business, playing music on the streets, selling tissue and producing handicraft are suffering badly.
"Our business has dropped to almost nothing. We have no fixed monthly income.
"Only a handful of us working in private companies and government departments have monthly income. The rest of us who are blind and wheelchair-bound earn from one day to the next and survive on a day-to-day basis.
"Since the Covid-19 outbreak started last month, most of our massage business and street-music operations have stopped totally.
"The past week of restricted public movement saw the cancellations of public transportation like express boats and buses, which make life even worse for us," said Ngau, who hails from ulu Baram in interior Miri division.
He appealed to the state and federal welfare authorities to give number one priority in aid disbursement to all the visually and physically handicapped.
"I heard about the various announcements over radio and TV about the cash aids from the federal side and from the state cabinet. Please give to us blind and wheelchair-bound first.
"Out of the 40,000 blind and physically-handicapped in Sarawak, about half are living in rural districts.
"But how can we travel out to the towns to get these financial aid since all buses and boats have stopped operating?" he asked.
Ngau said his society carried out a detailed telephone survey last month with members in various parts of Sarawak and found the livelihood situation of many at critical levels.
"All of us are pleading to the state and federal government to give their financial aid to us right now," he said.
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