As 2021 drew to a close, humanity disturbingly failed to rise to the occasion in the face of adversity.
In certain cases, bigotry, callousness and arrogance appeared to have consumed some Malaysians considerably, especially in these challenging times.
In particular, migrant workers and refugees, as well as those with families bore the brunt of the xenophobia of Malaysians, some of whom are themselves victims of the ravages that were unleashed by the recent floods in many parts of the country, particularly the Klang Valley.
The migrants, who were struggling without food for days in their squatter settlements after the deluge, were reportedly denied access to food aid prepared for them by civil society organisations and members of their own community.
Fortunately, there were a few Malaysians in the vicinity who cared enough to come to their rescue. They obviously understood a pang of hunger.
A few other migrants were reportedly discriminated against at certain flood relief shelters by some Malaysians, who felt that fellow citizens should be given priority over them. These migrants received bits of food and leftover clothes only after Malaysians at the centre got theirs first.
Unlike the migrants, the affected Malaysians could possibly take comfort and feel proud of the fact that there were many Malaysians in their midst who would come around to give a helping hand. In short, they have got each other’s back, hence the hashtag #KitaJagaKita.
Yet surely, the approach of #KitaJagaKita should also be extended to all fellow humans, irrespective of their stations in life and origins, particularly the migrants who were equally suffering following the catastrophe.
It is disconcerting that the national disaster did not move certain Malaysians to appreciate the value of sympathising with, let alone helping, the migrants. As flood victims or their friends, these Malaysians should spare a thought for what it means to be survive on an empty stomach, which is what those who found themselves stranded on their rooftops for days on end felt.
To consciously discriminate against the migrants over food and clean clothes was therefore shameful and utterly outrageous.
Malaysians were not the only ones who lost most of their belongings to the extent that they urgently needed basic necessities such as drinking water, food, blankets and clean clothes as well as relief shelters.
To lose whatever scarce belongings you have in a foreign land, swept away by floods as in the case of the migrants, was indeed a double tragedy and heart-wrenching.
Did the affected Malaysians not remember that they were left to themselves without food and shelter because food aid and other forms of assistance were delayed owing to a lack of coordination among government agencies? Is their trauma and pain different from that of the migrants?
Although migrants and refugeees are largely alienated by the host Malaysian community, some of them still did not shy away from offering help when some Malaysians needed it.
In the wake of the floods, a few migrants reportedly risked their lives to save Malaysians in their vicinity. They swam through the rushing floods to bring Malaysians to higher ground and provide food.
Driven by the spirit of togetherness, some refugees, for example, volunteered to help clean up the flooded homes of Malaysians in certain parts of the Klang Valley.
The destructive floods should awaken us all to the obvious fact that we are all part of humanity – requiring help, compassion and empathy when the occasion arises. – The Malaysian Insight