Malaysian authorities declared the nation under Movement Control Order (MCO) from 18 March 2020 under the Akta Pencegahan dan Pengawalan Penyakit Berjangkit 1998 and Akta Polis 1967, which was then extended as Conditional MCO (CMCO), to end on 9 June 2020. Under this order, all non-essential work, schools, universities and general operations are mandated to shut and everyone (except for essential workforce) must stay at home or shelter in place. All non-urgent international and interstate travel, recreational and social activities were also not allowed. Despite the mitigation measures in place, there had been a slow and steady increase in the number of Covid-19 positive cases in March – April, especially pronounced in the second wave of the spread of the disease where more clusters of infections were discovered throughout the country.
While actions taken by the authorities to stem the pandemic, had saved lives and much welcomed by the general community, the MCO/CMCO had an unfortunate impact upon various disadvantaged and vulnerable communities; disproportionately affecting the needs and rights of the indigenous people, urban poor, refugees and asylum seekers and migrant workers. These communities were already vulnerable with the lack of supportive policies and programmes by the government, even in normal circumstance, which had been amplified in such a dire situation.
The restrictions imposed had deprived the community’s access to work, food and nutrition, healthcare, and shelter due to their dependency on daily wages, lack of savings and security net to tide them through the period. Most, will also, not benefit from the special stimulus package announced by the Honourable Prime Minister on 27 March and subsequent aid packages. This is further compounded by the restrictions placed upon the movement and operations of NGOs/CSOs and agencies that usually extend aid and assistance, and were unable or faced additional challenges in reaching out to their beneficiaries.
The fact is, even following the end of MCO/CMCO or when the Covid-19 pandemic is successfully controlled, the country’s economy and businesses will take months to recover, which will inadvertently affect the most vulnerable members of the society who have to face a stark reality, for even longer.
SUHAKAM had conducted a needs assessment of the actual situation amongst these communities, to gather information and data which will guide a more structured and strategic approach to address the issues faced by the vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. It was necessary, to have evidence-based data from the ground in order to advocate for and seek solutions to issues that were faced. The information gathered will be useful to guide decisions on where aid is best focused on, for the immediate future, or to advise Government to develop targeted policies in the coming months. Where appropriate, SUHAKAM had fully utilised its media reach and influence, to guide and change public opinion, which may in itself bring about positive changes as to how society perceive and treat these communities.
The objectives of the dialogue sessions were :
- To identify the challenges and the needs of the communities during the crisis, including where the need is highest and impact is widest
- To discuss possible ways and means of supporting the communities, ensuring their rights are met and fulfilled in the shortest time possible
- To submit findings and recommendations to authorities and other relevant bodies, for the purpose of sourcing for funding, to influence policies or raise awareness; where appropriate
Please find below, summary of the findings obtained from the dialogue sessions, for your info and update
Subject: SUHAKAM Online Dialogue Sessions from 9 to 23 April 2020
|Refugee/asylum||Migrant/Undocumented||Urban poor/Homeless||Children||IndigenousPeople||Urban poor/migrant/refugees in Sabah||IndigenousPeople in Sabah and Sarawak|
|Held online on||9 April 2020||13 April 2020||16 April 2020||17 April 2020||20 April 2020||20 April 2020||23 April 2020|
|Children’s Rights to Education During the Covid 19 Pandemic in Sarawak||Isu Kanak-Kanak Di Sabah Ketika Pandemik Covid 19 Bersama Agensi Kerajaan Dan Bukan Kerajaan||Dialog Isu Kanak-Kanak Tanpa Warganegara Atau Dokumen Di Sarawak||Consultation on the Impacts of COVID-19 on Women|
|Held online on||12 June 2020||16 June 2020||7 July 2020||17 June 2020|