Sanusi calls on state residents to seek help through “official channels” instead.
According to an Utusan Malaysia report, Kedah menteri bessar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor characterised the white flag campaign as “political propaganda” against the Perikatan Nasional government.
“I have said many times that this (white flag campaign) is political propaganda that reflects a perception that the government has failed.
“When, in fact, the government is handling the Covid-19 pandemic well,” he was quoted as saying.
Instead of raising flags, Sanusi urged Kedah residents to contact their local Disaster Operations Control Centre (Pusat Kawalan Operasi Bencana or PKOB) or local representatives for help.
“We have already distributed phone numbers of the PKOB in every district and the numbers of the service centres of local representatives for the public to contact to get food aid.
“Now we have social media and messaging applications like Facebook and WhatsApp, individuals who need help can contact PKOB for food without raising a white flag,” he reportedly said.
He later reiterated his point on his Facebook page, discouraging state residents from raising white flags and urging them to contact local authorities or local mosques for food instead.
Sanusi has since courted flak for his comments about the campaign.
As of 10pm last night, the term “Kedah MB” was a trending topic on Malaysian Twitter and had been mentioned in 1,845 tweets.
Opposition MP Teresa Kok was among those who criticised the menteri besar.
“What kind of MB is this?
“Raising a white flag is an act of sending SOS message! Does he know that?” tweeted the Seputeh lawmaker.
Meanwhile, Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman disputed that the campaign was political propaganda.
“In Muar today I met a single mother who raised a white flag. Because of the MCO, her children have not been able to come home.
“She was in need. She was struggling to survive until next week because she had run out of necessities and had no money.
“This is not propaganda. Help them, don’t insult!” he said, also on Twitter.
Despite Sanusi’s claim, the movement called #BenderaPutih was started by the public as a means to signal for help and to aid fellow citizens who are struggling to cope with the lockdown.
Following the start of the campaign, many politicians have gone to the ground to find these flags and offer aid, while members of the public have started charity drives to help those affected.
Supermarkets, petrol stations, restaurants, businesses and NGOs have also stepped forward to help those who have raised such flags.