Ex-Penang Free School student helps feed security personnel, families under EMCO

Each day for the past week, Boo Soon Yew has been documenting his #MisiBekalPenjara (supply the prisons mission) – an initiative to help families in the Penang Remand Prison quarters in George Town who are under the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO).

Boo has also extended help to Seberang Prai Prison in Jawi as well as security personnel manning the roadblocks.

His good work has not gone unnoticed as a non-government organisation (NGO) contributed funds to buy supplies and much-needed mattresses and pillows.

“My wife (Chin Yoke Fang) was the one who told me we had to do something to help the families staying in the quarters.

“She had read an interview the warden gave, saying although EMCO was for two weeks, they only had supplies for three to four days,” said Boo, a private tutor.

“It struck a chord with her, knowing so many families would be affected by EMCO.

“So I approached some of my former schoolmates from Penang Free School and asked them for help. They immediately agreed.”

Boo and his former Penang Free School mates pooled their money to buy supplies.

He and his former schoolmates bought supplies from Tesco as the hypermarket arranged for transportation and delivery.

At the same time, Boo was approached via Facebook by someone staying in the quarters, asking for assistance.

“I’m in a Facebook group called ‘Penang lawan Covid-19’ (Penang fights Covid-19). I had raised some issues and spoke out against individuals trying to stigmatise those in the prisons.

“Someone from there then reached out and asked if I could help them,” he said.

“It was then that the gravity of the situation hit. Not only were they short of food but other essential items as well.”

It was initially reported there were 320 families staying in the quarters but another 200 officers and their families have also been quarantined.

These are officers who work at the prison but don’t stay at the quarters. They were sleeping in the common hall using the thin prison bed and towels as pillows.

This was when Boo made an appeal on Twitter asking for help and a non-governmental organisation – Pertubuhan Kebajikan dan Pembangunan Insan Seri Qiyam – responded.

“They helped buy the mattresses and pillows which were delivered on Friday and Saturday,” said Boo.

“I’m grateful for their help as there was only so much our group of friends could do. I’m worried the EMCO will be extended. We will soldier on to see what we can do.”

Those interested in helping Boo can contact him via Facebook.