M’sians start the White Flag movement to ensure the needy get help amid Covid-19 restrictions

Covid-19 continues to rage in Malaysia, with daily cases averaging at about 5,000 over the past four days, as of July 1.

Malaysians are struggling to stay afloat amidst the indefinite nation-wide lockdown. 

To help those in need, the Bendera Putih (White Flag) movement was started on social media platforms by Malaysians.

Hang out a white flag if you need help

The purpose of this movement is to alert surrounding neighbours on their plight.

Households can hang a white flag from their houses, indicating that they are in dire need of assistance, and neighbours can approach and assist them by providing food and supplies they require, according to the New Straits Times. 

This comes after the Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin extended the national lockdown until cases fall below 4,000 per day.

On Thursday (July 1), Minister for Defence Ismail Yaakob announced stricter lockdown measures in the state of Selangor, starting on Saturday (July 3) for two weeks, according to The Star.

Neighbours, celebrities, businesses stepping up to assist

One fishing village in Kedah, consisting of 20 families, received immediate assistance from Sungai Petani’s Volunteer Fire Department after hanging about 20 white flags around the area, according to China Press.

While it seems that some households were given the assistance they needed, there were also reports of fines to these families. 

Sinar Harian reported that in Kuantan, Pahang, a family was instructed to take down the white flag by “an individual escorted by three police officers”.  

According to the residents, they were told that it was considered an offence to hang the white flag. The police later clarified that they advised the residents to take down the white flag as it was hung from an electric pole. 

Multiple Facebook groups too were initiated to alert others about the locations where white flags were seen. Members within the groups also posted care packages and nearest food banks available within the area. 

Businesses also were onboard the movement. 

A popular cafe in Petaling Jaya, Awesome Canteen, gives out a free meal if you approach their cashier with a white paper. 

Local grocery shop, Econsave, also lent out a helping hand by delivering necessities to houses with white flags.

Malaysian rapper, Altimet, mentioned in his Instagram post that he, together with his friends, will be going around keeping a lookout for any houses with white flags to assist.

He insisted people to “not be shy about it” as he will just drop off the groceries and leave. 

Political Ploy

Despite the movement gaining traction among Malaysians, some political leaders are not so welcoming of this move. 

Kedah Chief Minister Muhammad Sanusi reportedly said that there is no need to raise any white flags and just “call for help”. 

He further claimed that the white flag movement is a political tactic employed by the opposition to undermine the good work of the federal government. 

Another PAS Member of Parliament, Nik Abduh Nik Aziz, also dismissed the campaign as a sign of defeatism, reported Free Malaysia Today.

Top image from Persatuan Pengguna Islam Malaysia and EconSave’s Facebook pages.