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Politicians must realise Malaysians lack quality of life

Dawn blues: Motorists crawl along the congested Kota Samarahan-Kuching highway - Photograph: Vanessa Gillian Naen

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Working late into the night, having to wake up early the next morning, little quality time – how did we end up like this, wonders JD Lovrenciear.

The issue of missing MPs in Parliament has been filling the news pages lately.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin offered some explanation why MPs are absent from ‘work’.

Apart from the reason that it gets cold in Parliament and therefore MPs leave to get warmed up, he also made a statement about what afflicts MPs, which also applies to many working Malaysians: the “Budget sessions always finish at around 10pm or 10.30pm. When an MP gets home, it’s about 12am and after you shower, it’s about 1am and after you say hi to your wife, it’s 1.30am.”And then he has to get up at 5am and rush to Parliament – not to mention other political routines and late nights.

How much punishment can the human body take? The entire Malaysian workforce is also going through such punishment daily, five days a week.Given the traffic jams, the family obligations, and increasing distances to and from work, an average Malaysian spends 15-17 hours staying awake, daily, including the 7.5 hours of contractual work obligations.This leaves barely eight hours that have to be split between rest, recreation and sleep.

Perhaps the health minister, who is passionate about the no-smoking drive, which, it is claimed, will improve the health and wellbeing of Malaysians, should take the cue from Hanipa and suggest policies to address the plight faced by not only MPs but by the entire Malaysian workforce.

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Perhaps too we need to ask our policymakers, how did we end up like this so much so the stress build-up is ignored while we are made to worship development at any cost.

Diabetes, cancer, heart-related diseases, obesity and mental health issues are silently building up. We only talk about these diseases in passing now and then. The phenomenon of restaurants operating 24 hours is a lifestyle promoted with little thought. Fast-food outlets are mushrooming even in small towns and within reach of large residential hubs.

Open spaces for exercise are disappearing with few token open areas, leaving those who can afford it to seek pricey gym memberships. Quality time is neglected – apart from some politician occasionally taking part in a publicity ‘stay healthy, eat healthy’ campaign. So, we are not tackling the long-term needs of a normal human being.

It is time to get back to the drawing board of public policy, national productivity and economic development that must come together to ensure social wellbeing.Otherwise, in plain English, we are just another failing third world nation.

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