KUALA NERUS — Residents of Kampung Baru, Pulau Redang, who depend on the tourism industry, proved that they were not the type to remain idle when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country.
They also did not want to depend on assistance from the government and the public, but persevered by doing various jobs to ensure there was food on the table.
This was shared by several villagers who were forced to turn to other means of livelihood after the tourism industry, their normal source of income, came to a halt due to COVID-19.
A housewife, Rosnani Deraman, 46, said that she took the initiative to make traditional ‘kueh’, which were sent to nearby stalls to cover her family expenses.
“All the while, only my husband, Mad Nawi Muda, 56, worked at a resort and took home RM2,000 a month, which was enough for us.
“But the hotel management had to rotate the attendance of the workers, as there are not many tourists, as previously.
“My husband’s salary was slashed by 50 per cent. We understood the situation but did not give up, and looked for an alternative income by selling ‘kueh’.
“On average, the sale is RM60 to RM80 a day, enough for our family expenses,” she said when met by reporters at the presentation of the Ganu Eco Charity contributions here.
For Noor Laila Ab Kadir, 40, it was a great blow to her family when the management of the resort where her husband worked gave him a seven-month unpaid leave.
“Imagine, all this while Pulau Redang was always lively with the arrival of tourists. It did not cross the mind of my husband Suhaili Mohamad, 43, that he would be unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“But life must go on. We eat whatever is available. Thank god, we received many dry food items from various quarters.
“My husband goes fishing daily and I will cook whatever fish he brings back, and try to be frugal,” said Noor Laila, who has two children, aged seven and 11.
Meanwhile, Mohd Nazri Yasin, 53, said that he had to go to sea to catch fish, despite lacking such skills, after being directed by hotel management to take unpaid leave from 10 to 14 days every month.
“My pay was RM1,500, now I can get RM500 to RM750. I have a heart condition and cannot do heavy work. If I am up to it, I will venture further out to fish. On days that I feel unwell, I just stay at home.
“It is fortunate that we are used to a moderate life and are grateful to any sustenance available. We are hoping that the tourism industry will recover as soon as possible,” said the father of six.
Meanwhile, Pulau Redang Kampung Baru Village Development and Security Committee (JPKK) chairman, Maarop Ismail, said that most of the village residents worked in hotels and resorts, and as boat skippers.
“Now they are forced to be fishermen, plant crops and sell ‘kueh’ to feed their families. Fortunately, many quarters are concerned and supply essential kitchen items, which provides much-needed relief to struggling residents.
“The assistance given has been very comforting to them, especially the senior citizens, chronic patients, persons with disabilities, single mothers and the underprivileged.
“It is hoped that the visits by the kind-hearted non-government organisations and government agency representatives can provide some comfort to them; that there are those who are concerned about their plight,” he said.
One tonne metric of essential goods under the Ganu Eco Charity was handed over by the Clean Air Forum Society of Malaysia (MyCAS), in collaboration with Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, which provided the RV Discovery research ship, to Pulau Redang.
MyCAS president, Dr Noor Zaitun Yahaya, said that a contribution of RM210,000 from Yayasan Hasanah, a foundation belonging to Khazanah Nasional Berhad, had benefited 1,500 residents.
“The distribution of 1,500 food packs and hygiene kits have been carried out in Besut, Hulu Terengganu, Dungun, Kuala Nerus, and Pulau Redang is its final location,” she added.