This comes after two opposition lawmakers said the allocation was only enough for 3,000 recipients.
The RM300,000 allocation given to all MPs for food baskets is on top of the ongoing food basket programme, clarified the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) this evening (July 1).
The existing programme is set to be “continued and enhanced” to serve those who are most affected by the Covid-19 lockdown, it said.
“In addition to this programme, RM300,000 will be distributed to each MP, including opposition MPs.
“This allocation is to enhance the existing Bantuan Bakul Makanan (Food Basket Assistance) programme to ensure a more inclusive and effective rollout to target groups nationwide,” the PMO explained in a statement.
It added that this RM300,000 allocation would be disbursed to MPs beginning today. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had announced the initiative on Monday (June 28) as part of the Pemulih aid package.
For constituencies without an MP, the allocation would be channelled to local councils.
The Hulu Perak District and Land office will be in charge of Gerik’s allocation while the RM300,000 for Batu Sapi will be distributed to the Sandakan Municipal Council.
Not enough for big constituencies
The PMO did not explain a reason for its statement but the clarification comes after two opposition MPs noted that the RM300,000 allocation was only enough for 3,000 recipients.
This could be insufficient to meet the need of larger constituencies.
Earlier, Segambut lawmaker Hannah Yeoh shared that the government had given MPs a list of 13 items for each food basket.
It also specified that each basket must contain RM100 worth of food.
“If each basket is worth RM100, this means we can distribute it to only 3,000 families.
“This benefits the Putrajaya MP (Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor) as compared to the Damansara MP (Tony Pua) or the Bangi MP (Ong Kian Ming),” she tweeted.
Ong similarly tweeted that the RM300,000 allocation will benefit a mere 0.6 percent of his constituents in Bangi.
“My parliamentary constituency has more than 187,000 voters (and as estimated more than 500,000 residents).
“This means these food baskets will reach 1.6 percent of the voters or 0.6 percent of residents,” he calculated.
Based on GE14 data, Bangi (178,790) had about six and a half times more voters than Putrajaya (27,306).
Damansara (164,322), meanwhile, had about six times more voters than Putrajaya.
These voter numbers were determined by a 2016 redelineation exercise done by the Election Commission and which was criticised for worsening malapportionment.
PMO’s explanation also comes amidst a citizen-driven #BenderaPutih (white flag) campaign.
Launched several days ago, the campaign encourages those who are struggling financially to display a white flag in front of their homes as a sign that they need immediate assistance.
Supermarkets, petrol stations, restaurants, businesses, NGOs and political parties have since stepped forward to help those who have raised white flags.
There have already been reported cases of desperate families receiving much-needed aid due to the campaign.
However, the welfare campaign has courted flak from leaders of ruling party PAS.