Civil societies play crucial role in post-pandemic recovery


THE government said its partnership with civil society organisations (CSO) in the country’s post-pandemic recovery was crucial to ensure everyone receives the support they need to get back on their feet.

In his opening remarks at the Hasanah Forum yesterday, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (picture) said CSOs and social enterprises are crucial stakeholders in our nation’s road to healing because they are often able to access pockets of society more efficiently.

Their wide outreach enables them to customise the appropriate interventions needed by every individual.

“The pandemic may have wrought havoc on various aspects of our existence, but it has also opened numerous opportunities for us to reflect and act on, so that we can rebuild our lives better and develop resilience for future shocks.

“In order to capitalise on these opportunities and be better prepared for future threats and uncertainties, we need a fresh approach, one that allows our communities to proactively take ownership of matters that directly impact them.

“CSOs are central to this new approach. In terms of implementing effective solutions to hyperlocal issues, many CSOs do an extraordinary job and have grown in terms of reach and impact,” said the minister.

Civil society’s role has become more pronounced since the onset of the pandemic and Tengku Zafrul noted some organisations that have been at the national forefront during the pandemic include Mercy Malaysia and the Malaysian Red Crescent.

He noted in 2021, the government decided to collaborate with the government-linked companies and government-linked investment companies’ disaster response network as a conduit to channel aid to CSOs.

The organisations then assisted the government to reach the most vulnerable with speed and efficiency due to the strong hyperlocal network, said Tengku Zafrul.

The government has also collaborated with Yayasan Hasanah to create the Hasanah Special Grant (HSG) during the peak of the pandemic with the aim of supporting projects that improve the quality of life and socio-economic resilience of the B40 communities.

“Through this collaboration, to-date the HSG has allocated RM50 million over two phases. A total of 110 projects were successfully implemented in the first phase, and some of these projects have been earmarked for scaling up which will ensure more sustained benefit to the communities.

“I am happy to share that as of August 2021, the 110 projects have covered 140,000 beneficiaries largely from vulnerable communities, and approximately 400 endangered animals for their care and upkeep,” said Tengku Zafrul.

The government is looking forward to further strengthening its partnership with the CSOs to leverage on their expertise and reach.

The minister outlined several measures in Budget 2022 which are focused on empowering the CSOs which include provisions of RM100 million in the form of a matching grant with GLC-owned foundations to work on key areas specified in the budget such as mental health and after-school education, among others.

The government is also collaborating with Yayasan Keluarga Malaysia to provide and protect the welfare, education and future of children who have been orphaned due to Covid-19.

“Direct Budget 2022 measures and other government policies aside, collaboration between corporates and civil society is also a powerful tool that has yet to reach its fullest potential in helping Malaysia heal and develop socio- economically in a sustainable way.

“To this end, such collaboration must go beyond charitable donations. It is all about corporate citizenry, for corporations to play their roles in developing and giving back to communities.

“Ideally, these should involve Malaysian corporates’ integrating social considerations into their business models, to ensure the sustainability of the communities and environment in which they operate,” he added.