KUALA LUMPUR – March 27, 2020: On the third day of the movement control order (MCO), Mohd. Akmal Harith was asked by his boss to take unpaid leave as the eatery he was cooking for had to go on hiatus throughout the partial lockdown.
His boss’s decision to close shop, due to plummeting revenues, was a bitter pill for the Kelantan-born who came here last year to swallow as his salary was prorated by the number of days he clocked-in. His daily rate was RM40.
And what became a double whammy for the 28-year-old was his ineligibility for the RM600 monthly aid for those who lose their income due to the MCO.
“I’ve been calling the cash aid’s hotline for days and when my call finally got through, they told me I wasn’t qualified because I didn’t lose my income on March 1. Only those who lose their income for 30 days can apply,” he lamented.
Akmal’s claim was indeed true, as the F.A.Q on the aid posted at the Ministry of Human Resources website states this: “The RM600 incentive is not applicable for the purpose of this order [MCO] because the minimum eligibility is one month.”
“This is dumb. The MCO was announced on March 16. It was enforced on March 18. Why would people like me lose their income on March 1? I already did the math, even with the April 14 extension, I still won’t qualify for the aid,” Akmal bemoaned.
The extension was announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin two days ago, extending the MCO from 14 days to 27, meaning that those who lost their income on day one of the MCO still wouldn’t qualify for the aid.
Apart from the RM600 cash incentive, the government has also brought forward the disbursement date of the RM200 cost of living allowance from May to March 16.
It has also set-up a RM100 daily handout scheme to those who lose their income due to either being warded because of the Covid-19 infection or those ordered to quarantine themselves due to being in contact with the infected.
This handout is managed by the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) of the PM Department.
Nadma’s initiative however, said Azimah Hajar Abdul Khalid, who has not been able to work from March 9 till today because her self-quarantine order coincides with the ongoing MCO, has a rather peculiar and frustrating red tape.
“I have to download the form, mail it and wait for up to 30 days for approval. Only then will the money be wired into my account. I am already short on cash and I need to wait for 30 days… seriously!?” was Azimah’s rhetorical poser.
“I work at a launderette. They pay me by the hour and I haven’t been able to work since three weeks ago. I don’t know how I am going to survive till April 14?” lamented the 32-year-old from Raub.