White Flag: Mooted by Malaysians for Malaysians in need

Lifeline: A man waving a white flag at his flat in Puchong. The white flag campaign hopes to help people in need. — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

PETALING JAYA: An online idea to get Malaysians to help their fellows in need has sparked a movement.

The online campaign through the Twitter hashtag #BenderaPutih (White Flag) has garnered more than 29,000 tweets so far, with thousands pledging to help out.

Although it is unknown who started the initiative, social media users have described it as a movement by Malaysians pledging to help other Malaysians who are in dire straits. The initiative aims to help those in desperate need of food and essentials.

It suggests that those who desperately need assistance fly a white flag or cloth outside their homes, which would let those who are able to help know which households could be facing extreme difficulties.

The initiative arose amid growing reports of Malaysians increasingly affected by the pandemic.

Twitter user @elle_kj posted: “Aku bukan orang senang (I don’t have it easy), but I know how hard it is bila kau tiada apapa (when you don’t have anything). Please reach out if you need help, we are willing to help.”

Another Twitter user @hellodeena pledged her support for the initiative, adding that she would also like to help “furry friends in need”.

“Please help me spread the word. If you are staying in Subang Jaya and are struggling to feed your cats or dogs, please reach out, ” she tweeted, using the hashtags #BenderaPutih and #KitaJagaKita.

Saiful Bahari, 31, who runs his own car detailing business in Simpang Pulai, Ipoh, welcomed the initiative.

“At least there are Malaysians and people in your neighbourhood who are willing to help families or individuals who are in dire straits and provide them with some relief and hope, even if it is temporary.”

Saiful said he believes that there are many Malaysians who are in need of aid but don’t know who to turn to or where to go to for help.

His own business has also been affected, being deemed a non-essential service, he’s had to shut the workshop during Phase One of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

“One of my staff members claimed that he had only RM1.77 in his bank account with rent, loan payments and bills which he can’t afford to pay. It really made me sad.

“Although my business will remain closed until Phase Two of the NRP, I told him I will help as much as I can,” he said.

He added that he will be paying his staff their full salary this month at least.

“It’s my responsibility to take care of their welfare. But if this goes on for months, I don’t know if I can afford to,” Saiful said.

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