Monday, June 23, 2008

I am Monster and I am a charity case

I quote The Star, yesterday

DAP has said that they would have considered supporting the motion on price hikes tabled by Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Samad if the Government agreed to giving out cash aid to lower and middle income families.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said they had suggested that families earning under RM6,000 a month receive RM6,000 per year.

I have issues with giving handouts.

Why do politicians, and with this I mean those hailing from both sides of the fence, seem to think that help for the needly always involves sedekah.

Going by DAP's generous suggestion of giving a family RM500 per month, sure that is a lot of money, but it will not break the cycle of poverty.

On one hand you may give RM500 'assistance' and yet on the other hand, if the prices of transport, rice, sundries and utilities continue to rise, RM500 is not going to go very far in the long run.

If the government was really serious in assisting the deserving to weather this economic storm, then a full strategy with practical plans to protect those most vulnerable, together with the necessary budget should have been presented to the people with announcement of the price increase in petrol.

Declaring an overnight increase and then in the wake of the public furore, come up with hasty public statements on how to curb inflation and half baked plans to help the people, is far from what I call competent governance.

For instance the stand on civil servants being encouraged to take on second jobs. One day, can then the next day, cannot. Who is a laughing stock now?

You don't have to go as far as looking at civil servants or the lower income earners. Even the middle class earners are trying to add more to their coffers by selling insurance, MLM, baking cakes, freelance work, I am sure you know a few or you are doing so yourself.

And telling us to change our lifestyles is only adding insult to injury. When we can hardly bring home enough to feed ourselves, what more a family, there is very little else we can squeeze from our income (which is the only thing that does not seem to be expanding).

If the government is serious about eradicating poverty and helping the rakyat to cushion the blow, cash handouts , while better than hot air, is still a poor way of doing it.

If anything, begin with granting minimum wage. Subsidize bas sekolah costs, give free meals for all in schools, give free medical treatment for senior citizens and the disabled be it for flu or cancer and IMPROVE PUBLIC TRANSPORT.

And when I mean improve, I mean it should be cheap enough for students, safe enough for pregnant mothers, punctual enough for workers and comfortable enough that our Yang Berhormats would consider taking them to work. Meat trucks are not acceptable.

No need to go very far for any government lawatan sambil belajar (or as common with our government officers lawatan sambil bersiar). Singapore and HongKong have excellent systems.

Anyway, enough for tonight.
Sigh. If I develop ulcers, I will know where the angst comes from.

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