The harsh truth is that more and more Malaysians are facing huge financial constraints and even the middle class are not spared, writes JD Lovrenciear.
Concerned Malaysians have written a lot about the low-income group, and a select few media with a soul have published their views. These folks have highlighted the decades-old socioeconomic plight of the bottom 40% of households which has crept into the middle class.
Occasionally, we also hear of politicians trumpeting their rice and oil handouts. We also periodically hear how the past and present governments are working on providing low-cost pigeon holes for the growing number of the Malaysian poor.
Meanwhile, estate workers are dumped without a roof over their heads as plantation owners abandon decades-old rubber estates, which change hands for a tidy profit.
To add to this malaise, we are unable to implement a reasonable minimum wage policy while the business sectors (public and private enterprises) continue to operate by employing foreign migrant workers for far below minimum wages.
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Yet we remain obsessed with wanting to keep transforming Malaysia into a developed nation dotted with skyscrapers. Modern, world-class housing and business premises for rich foreign citizens is the focus of many development projects, which keep mushrooming all over the country.
The relevant authorities are allowing developers to make a killing using the veiled threat that, if we cannot help them sell their excess unsold homes, the country’s economy will suffer. Only the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) seems to be asking the hard questions. Only PSM leaders are willing to champion the true plight of a growing number of poor Malaysians.
Everybody else is hankering to become millionaires at all costs or to live surrounded by a fleet of exotic cars and bungalows. Rich politicians even have the audacity to proclaim proudly, “I was rich even before entering politics.”
While we outwardly display our religiosity, we have no conscience towards the growing rift between the rich and the poor. Religion is used to the hilt not to bring salvation for the poor and the oppressed but to burden them.
Look at the kind of homes meant for the poor in the People’s Housing Projects (PPR) schemes. Look at the jobs left for the poor. Look at how tens of thousands queue for medical care while the upper classes can pay premiums for prompt quality healthcare. Look at the number of above-average students denied further education because of the quota system or lack of financial means.
What have our leaders ever learned from so many advanced nations like the Nordic countries.
The harsh truth is that more and more Malaysians are facing huge financial constraints. Even the middle class are not spared. Trying to make ends meet is turning into a nightmare for them.
All we are left with are politicians clamouring to gain more power while the business community is trying to make as much money as possible, as if there is no tomorrow.
Perhaps we need a revolution of hearts. People must stop buying houses that are no longer affordable. The poor must reject pigeon-holes homes. People must demand a decent, honourable lifestyle and opportunities. They should not give their votes in exchange for empty promises.
If we truly love this country, we must stop the kind of development aimed mainly at rich locals and moneyed foreigners.