PM Muhyiddin should act swiftly to preserve the livelihoods of rakyat in light of many suicides: MP Kasthuri Patto

Media statement by Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan and International Secretary for Wanita DAP Kasthuri Patto on Monday 28th June 2021:

Suicides and attempted suicides have spiked under MCO lockdowns. Have a heart, listen to the people Mr PM, and act swiftly to preserve the livelihoods of all who are suffering.

This morning a viral picture of a man who took his life was circulating around in WhatsApp groups.

Last night, someone on Twitter shared how his hands trembled as he dialled a number of a person who messaged him asking will his insurance policy cover any payment to his family if he committed suicide.

Last week, a woman attempted suicide by jumping off the Second Bridge in Penang due to financial difficulties.

In 2020, in Penang, there were 24 cases of attempted suicides who survived and 58 of those who died. This year, from January to May, the numbers have spiked to 19 attempted suicides and 53 who have died – all within 5 months.

Tan Sri Mahiaddin, you stated that aid for the people will be announced in a day or two after a disappointing announcement that the nation will go into lockdown until we see less than 4000 positive cases a day and your uncertainty in even announcing the kind of aid that will be provided for struggling Malaysians, let alone the timing of the announcement is truly a matter of life and death to many out there.

Malaysians will not object to a lockdown if the Government prioritises the needs of the people like how they take care of the needs and wants of banks and big factories in Malaysia – food on the table, a moratorium on loan repayments, a moratorium on rentals for their accommodations and business premises, devices for their children who have to follow with online learning, discounts on electricity bills, free and accessible internet services for online learning, welfare officers equipped to process and approve aid for those truly struggling and many more.

Are you not the least worried that more than 266 people have taken their own lives to date due to these uncertain and lengthy imposition of lockdowns with no end? It is public knowledge that what we read and hear are only a fraction of reported cases of suicides and it should be a terrifying thought for you as Prime Minister and your Government.

On the 12th of June this year, Nicholas Khaw from Khazanah Nasional said that the priority now should be the people, rather than the larger economy.

I agree with him but the economic sustainability of the traditional B40 and those in the M40 who are now under B40 must be taken into serious consideration as well. A healthy nation is as important as economic survival for those whose lives depend on it.

Many MPs’ offices, including mine, are stretched financially in providing aid to the rakyat in the form of dry food, sanitary pads, adult diapers, milk formulas and other daily necessities.

With only RM100,000 to run the show for a year per constituency has indeed been a challenge with many of us using our own salaries to assist our constituents.

What about the rakyat who have dug deep into their pockets, savings and all forms of cash in hand just to put food on the table and with an uncertain future, are driven to give up? What is your remedy and aid for them Mr PM?

Indeed, the Government has ramped up advertisements on psychosocial support numbers under the Ministry of Health and volunteers from MERCY as seen through social media promotions and on WhatsApp and it is indeed better late than never. Befrienders, SNEHAM, AGAPE Counselling Centres and many others including places of worship as well as religious NGOs have been handling suicide prevention cases and within their capacity, have been providing comfort, support and a way out for those who are on the verge of ending their lives.

However, the crux of the matter still lies in how the Government, with all its resources and a huge budget intends to strike when the iron is hot to assist and sustain small businesses from collapsing further.

These small businesses contribute to the economy too, and they make what Malaysia truly is – resilient and tough yet compassionate and helpful.

With so many who have been driven to the point of no return taking their own lives, and the piling number of those who have attempted ending their lives but rescued in the nick of time by selfless everyday heroes, the onus is on you and your cabinet to offer solutions in place.

They simply want to end their pain and suffering and not to end their lives. Inaction on your part will eventually drive them to do so.

Suicides and attempted suicides have spiked under MCO lockdowns. Have a heart, listen to the people Mr PM, and act swiftly to preserve the livelihoods of all who are suffering.

Kasthuri Patto
Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan
International Secretary for Wanita DAP

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