KUALA LUMPUR, 10 July - The ECM Libra Foundation, with the support of leading corporate figures and prominent individuals, today launched a food aid program to help marginalised communities and the urban poor most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic by providing them food for the next 6 to 12 months. The Foundation, which pledged to donate RM1 million ringgit, is also reaching out to its friends and associates to support the program and has received pledges from some of them.
“We further pledge to match every donation from our friends ringgit to ringgit for up to another one million ringgit, making our total contribution two million ringgit. These monies will be enough to feed from 1,000 to two thousand families for six to 12 months,” ECM Libra Foundation chairman Kalimullah Hassan said.
He said the Foundation is not soliciting nor will it accept any funds from members of the public. “The donors will only be from among our friends and associates and will be channelled direct to the recipients through participating NGOs.”
The ECM Libra Foundation has since its inception in 2004, dispensed more than RM 50 million to under-served and marginalised communities through interest free loans, scholarships, and building tuition centres and hostels. It has been working with established NGOs since the start of the MCO in March to provide food and other aid to these communities, particularly the urban poor in Kuala Lumpur.
“Now that travel restrictions are no longer in place, we would like to expand the scope and cover communities in other states and in East Malaysia,” Kalimullah said.
The Foundation will be working with 10 different NGOs, targeting aid to the most vulnerable and marginalised communities in the country:
Kalimullah said: “These groups are the hardest hit. Since the MCO, many have had to struggle to feed themselves and their families. In many cases, they have had to pawn their jewellery, sell their cars and motorcycles, and resort to petty crime – stealing baby milk, diapers, Milo and even petai to feed their starving families.
“These incidences are well documented in the news,” he said.
The ECM Libra Foundation was set up with funding from its founders Dato David Chua Ming Huat, Dato Lim Kian Onn and Dato Seri Kalimullah Hassan. It has twice been awarded the Prime Minister’s CSR Award (in 2007 and in 2012) for its work with marginalised communities. Since its inception, the ECM Libra Foundation has also actively worked to help indigenous groups in Sabah and Sarawak and the Orang Asli communities.
Kalimullah said that while the Government has come up with many aid programs to help the poor, there are tens of thousands who have fallen between the cracks. Projections are that hundreds of thousands of Malaysians and migrant workers will be unemployed by the end of the year.
As an example, in the United States of America, despite the Government’s three trillion dollars of stimulus and aid programmes, at least one in four people skip meals or depend on food donations and soup kitchens. (Source: CNBC)
In Malaysia, since the MCO started on March 18, NGOs and volunteers – through public donations – did a lot of work with these invisible communities. These activities continue but funding is getting scarcer as Malaysians begin to feel the pain of the shrinking economy.
THE COVID-19 FOOD PROGRAMME
Against this backdrop, the ECM Libra Foundation decided to embark on the food aid programme. The Foundation funds its programmes through monies provided by its three founders. However, during the MCO, it received inquiries from friends who wanted to participate in such programs to aid those most severely affected by the pandemic.
“We have therefore decided to match our money with money from these friends and associates who want to assist the ‘invisible communities’ until the Malaysian economy is back on track again, hopefully, within the next 12 months. We envisage that we would require at least three million ringgit (RM 3,000,000.00) to enable us to provide food for up to 2,000 families throughout the country for the next six to 12 months,” Kalimullah said.
The Foundation will NOT receive nor accept any donations. All donations from its friends and associates will be made out directly to the suppliers of groceries and foodstuff, such as established hyper-markets, or directly to the NGOs, under the supervision of Foundation executives to ensure the funds are used solely for the food programme.
In addition to this, there will be another fund-raising exercise for the same programme. Both Air Asia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and property tycoon Tan Sri Salim Fateh Din have proposed a squash match labelled “THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE”.
Tan Sri Tony and Tan Sri Salim propose to raise funds from their own associates and friends from this squash match. ASTRO has proposed to telecast the match and together with the Edge and other media partners, regular updates will be broadcast and published until the funds are exhausted. It is targeted that the match will be held once the Government allows contact sports to resume, probably in August. Meanwhile, the aid programme will begin next week with funding from the ECM Libra Foundation.
Once the funds are exhausted, a statement of accounts will be furnished to all donors. Mr Ragunath Kesavan, CCA and KPMG have kindly consented to provide their services pro-bono.
HOW WILL FUNDS BE DISTRIBUTED
The food aid will be distributed, under supervision of the ECM Libra Foundation, through well established NGOs which have a track record of work within these communities. The NGOs include:
The COVID-19 FOOD AID PROGRAMME will have a finite shelf life of between 6-months to a maximum of 12 months, following which, the programme will cease and be wound up thereafter.