Aid a welcome relief for rakyat

Keeping updated: An office worker watching Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcement of the Perlindungan Ekonomi dan Rakyat Malaysia (Permai) assistance package. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

PETALING JAYA: The RM15bil Perlindungan Ekonomi dan Rakyat Malaysia (Permai) assistance package has received the thumbs up from the people but some are hoping for the government to pay more attention to targeted groups.

Johorean Nur Azureen Hussin, who has hearing and speech impairment, hoped that the government would assist small business operators who were struggling to make ends meet due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said business at her dessert shop in the Larkin Sentral bus terminal in Johor Baru has been badly affected since March last year due to travel restrictions.

“My business has dropped by about 90%. Currently, I depend on online orders.

“I am left with not much after paying the workers’ salary and utility bills.

“It is a relief to know that a sum of RM300mil has been set aside to help small and medium enterprises but I hope the business coaching campaigns funded by the government will not overlook businesses run by people with disabilities, ” said the 28-year-old.

University student Ada Lua, 22, said the extension of the free 1GB data to browse websites would be beneficial for students, especially those from low-income families.

“However, it is still a challenge for those in rural and interior areas where connectivity is low.

“My coursemates in their villages in Sabah and Sarawak were often hampered by service disruption during online classes, ” she said.

Lua added that the government should also consider the challenges faced by tertiary students especially those who have paid for on-campus accommodation but were unable to stay in.

“For example, students from Johor who are studying in Sabah, had to fork out a few hundred ringgit a month to rent a room off-campus while waiting for the green light to return to campus, ” she said.

In George Town, taxi driver Ahmad Iswadi Arshad, 43, said he was grateful for the government’s efforts to help the people, especially those in the B40 group.

The single father also urged the government to come up with plans to support taxi drivers, who have been facing financial difficulties due to fewer passengers.

“Find ways to improve the economy so that everyone will have a job and income, ” he said.

School bus driver A. Vijayakumaran, 68, was glad with the RM500 one-off payment under the package.

“I am thankful that the government still assists the people although the current economy is bad.

“I hope the pandemic will end soon, ” said the former civil servant.

Tourist guide Tony Cheong, 56, said the one-off aid would come in handy.

“With the MCO now, I could not perform as a busker in shopping malls to make some income, ” he said.

E-hailing driver Huzaidi Mat Rashid, 45, said the aid could ease his family expenses a little.

Student Nurul Qistina Muhamad Azhan, 22, said the extension of tax relief for computers, cellphones and tablets until Dec 31 this year was timely and would help to ease her family burden.

“Computers and tablets are essential items for students.

“During this pandemic, most students will not be able to go to their campus, ” she said.

In Sibu, single mother Julia Lamban, 26, said she was happy that the moratorium facility for vehicles has been included in the package.

“I will await the details before applying, ” she said.

A visually impaired masseur, Yap Chong Yap, 56, said the RM100 food basket programme would benefit those without a fixed income.

“I do not have Bantuan Sara Hidup as the Inland Revenue Board rejected my application as I am running a business, ” he said, adding that he only received a welfare aid of RM400 monthly.

In Ipoh, lorry driver Mohd Akmal Zainuddin, 45, said he looked forward to getting a three-month moratorium on his car loan.

“Since the conditional MCO, I was laid off from work. I am the sole breadwinner as my wife has not been working for the past six months.

“We are now selling nasi lemak and traditional cakes to make ends meet. It’s barely enough, ” he said.

Separately, Malaysian Tourist Guides Council president Jimmy Leong said more need to be done for tourist guides to sustain their livelihoods.

“Any gesture initiated by the government is appreciated but a one-off aid of RM500 is certainly not enough to sustain even the basic needs of a family.

“The border will not be opening soon and the return to normalcy for these families (of tourist guides) will not be near.

“Domestic travellers are restricting themselves in a ‘new norm’ by just holidaying with their family members.

“So the services of the licensed tourist guides are not needed, ” he said, adding that the most affected age group was of those between 30 and 55.

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