Mohamad Nor Abdullah didn’t anticipate the outpouring support when he placed a white flag outside of his window at night. Numerous strangers came knocking on his door to offer food, money, and encouragement by morning.
Malaysia’s national lockdown to stop a coronavirus epidemic was intensified on Saturday. It prohibits people from leaving their homes except for food and other necessities.
It drove Mohamad nor into despair. Although he managed to make a living selling packed nasi Lemak (a popular coconut milk rice dish with condiments) at a roadside stand every morning, that income vanished and government assistance was insufficient.
Mohamad Nor is a 29-year-old man who was born without arms and has a white flag campaign on social media. He happened to see the Facebook campaign and decided to take action to get help.
It was unexpected. “It was so unexpected.” Mohamad Nor said as he sat in his cramped room, surrounded by boxes of rice, baking oil, and water. He stated that he was grateful to the Samaritans for their help in paying his rent and that it should be sufficient to get him through the next few weeks.
Malaysian society began the #benderaputih campaign to address rising suicides thought to be linked to economic hardships resulting from the pandemic. Police reported 468 suicides within the first five months of this year. This is an increase of four per day compared to 631 in 2020.
People were asked to raise a white flag to show they need immediate assistance. Many Malaysians drove around the neighborhood looking for white flags.
Since Malaysia implemented various restrictions on movement, thousands of people lost their jobs. This includes a coronavirus emergency that has forced Parliament to be suspended since January. The June 1st strict national lockdown was the second in over a year.
More than 778,000 Coronavirus cases have been reported in Malaysia, almost seven times more than the entire of last year. There were also over 5,400 deaths.
Malaysians are touched by the stories of families that received quick help after raising a white Flag. One mother and her teenage daughter survived on biscuits for days. A neighbor fed an indebted vendor who was on the brink of his death. Cash help was given to a Myanmar refugee family that can only eat one meal per day.
Many people hail the white flag movement for its unity and solidarity. But not everyone agrees.
An Islamist lawmaker, who is part of the ruling coalition’s ruling coalition, caused public outrage when he suggested that people pray to God rather than surrendering with a white flag. The campaign was criticized by a state chief minister as propaganda against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yossin’s government.
This has inspired others to do the same. A red flag was displayed by an animal association to encourage financially poor people to show support for their animals.
Over the weekend, anti-government protesters started a black flag campaign. Opposition lawmakers and others put up black flags on social networks to demand that the premier resign and for Parliament to resume normal operations. According to police, however, they are currently investigating the black flag campaign for public mischief, sedition and misuse of network facilities for offensive purpose.
Muhyiddin took power in March 2020 following political maneuvers that brought down the previous reformist government. He faces fierce opposition from both within and outside his coalition. With Parliament suspended, it is impossible to test his support.
Muhyiddin’s Office announced Monday that the lower House will resume July 26 just days before the emergency expires August 1, giving in to pressure from the king, ethnic Malay rulers and the monarch.
James Chin, an Asian expert at Australia’s University of Tasmania, stated that the white flag movement could increase public anger about a perceived ineptness in the government’s ability manage the crisis.
He said, “The white flag campaign will no question be used as an important political weapon to demonstrate that the government has a massive failure.”