4:03pm 09/11/2022
How did the Foodpanda rider fall through the net?
By:Mariam Mokhtar

The story about 37-year-old single mother Azimah Abdul Rahim and her blind six-year-old daughter Nur Ainul Zahirah Rashidi is one of extreme sadness. More importantly, it is the story of the failure of our society and our government.

It is a story which has happened many times before, and yet the same government agencies have not improved the system because the same mistakes are being repeated.

Why did they fail to make the necessary changes?

Last week, when Utusan published a photo of Azimah carrying her child as she delivered food, shocked Malaysians immediately responded by contributing money, clothes, toys and other essential household goods.

Azimah works as a food delivery rider and was photographed delivering food in the Lembah Pantai area of Kuala Lumpur.

She was spotted on her rounds with Nur Ainul strapped to her body.

Unable to find child care for her daughter, Azimah was forced to bring her along, come rain or shine, whilst she went on her rounds.

When the photo of mother and child went viral and her story was reported in national media, Azimah told reporters she hoped her economic situation could improve.

She told Utusan that if her public housing application was successful, she hoped to work from home selling frozen food online so that she could easily care for her daughter whilst also earning an income.

Although her story is very tragic, it is one which could easily have been avoided. It is not just the story about a single mother and child. It goes much deeper.

Azimah’s plight is the story of a failed syariah and zakat system.

What happened to zakat money to help the poor? The religious authorities are quick to question our conduct and our dress code, but when it comes to helping single mothers with various means to improve their lives, the officials are nowhere to be found.

It is the failure of our Women’s Ministry to help disabled children and provide the necessary assistance to the parents of disabled children.

Why is it so difficult for the ministry to demand an improvement in the delivery of help to disabled children and their families?

It is a story of the failure of the Social Welfare Department. Is their message about providing assistance to the public non-existent or very difficult to access?

If information is not made easily available, how are the rakyat going to know? Communication in the Social Welfare Department is very poor and should be improved.

It is also a story about the failure of the syariah courts to force Azimah’s former husband to provide child maintenance. After all, Nur Ainul is also his child.

If Azimah was widowed and not divorced, then the syariah system presumably has a system in place where widows can apply for help. Why was she not told?

It is a story about the failure of education. Are the Little Napoleons in government not aware that people like Azimah exist? Is the information about accessing help shockingly inadequate? Why is this?

Could Azimah be to blame for being too proud to ask for help? This can’t possibly be the case. Which mothers would deny their own children the necessary assistance?

It is also a story about the failure of our Ministry of Education. Blind children have the right to an education. All mothers have a right to child care.

What happened to both the ministries of Education, and the Women, Family, and Community Development?

It is also a story about the breakdown of law enforcement. We normally spot traffic police or Road Traffic Department officers at road blocks and crossroads.

Didn’t at least one of them see how dangerous it was for Nur Ainul to cling on to the front of her mother as she negotiated the heavy traffic in KL? What if they were involved in a crash? What if Azimah hit a pothole and her child was flung from her? What about the dense acrid exhaust fumes which both mother and child breathe in? Why damage the young girl’s respiratory function?

The single mother knew that without any work, there was no way she could feed herself and her young daughter.

A child with a disability has its own set of challenges. How does our society fail single mothers like Azimah?

There are several questions which remain unanswered, and more’s the pity because this is not the first time Malaysians have read about similar cases of single mothers like Azimah being failed by the state.

We hear about the Umno-Baru president Zahid Hamidi being charged for millions of ringgit of corruption, and former prime minister, the convicted felon Najib Abdul Razak stealing billions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money. They seem to do it without any difficulty at all, and yet single mothers cannot gain access to public funds. Why is this so?

For over six decades, Umno-Baru and PAS boast that only a Malay and Muslim party will help the Malays and defend Islam. If truth be told, they could not even help the hapless Azimah and her child.

Malaysians would rather pay for Azimah and hundreds of thousands like her instead of forking out exorbitant wages and benefits of 70-odd members of the majority Malay and Muslim cabinet.

Azimah’s story is about the lack of leadership in government.


Malaysiakini: Delivery rider mum carries child while working, remains hopeful

(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)


Mariam Mokhtar


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