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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Living From Hand To Mouth

Auditor-Generals-Report
Recent articles on What AG's report Says on Penang, Selangor, Kelantan, and Kedah provide evidence that state governments under PR doing well (financially). But does this mean the rakyat are happy? There is hardly any point if the state is rich while the rakyat remain poor. While such glowing reports make netizens happy, voters care more about making ends meet than about sterling performances, especially in the light of this Bloomberg report which said that "Malaysia’s inflation unexpectedly quickened in September as food and transportation costs climbed and a weakening ringgit made imports costlier".

According to Monsoon (Cup) winds of change, a well-known Malaysian business magazine reported that Terengganu is the second richest state after Selangor but its rakyat are the second poorest after Perlis. The Kelantan Menteri Besar, Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat, retorted that Kelantan may be poor compared to Terengganu, but its people are rich. “Kekayaan Kelantan di tangan rakyat,” said Nik Aziz. In early 2000, he also said that Terengganu is 2nd richest state in Malaysia but rakyat are poor while Kelantan is 2nd poorest state but the rakyat are rich.

With all the economic hardship that people faced despite the fact that the state was rich, the opposition lost Terengganu back to BN in 2004. However, Kelantan stayed with opposition in spite of no development for different reasons - namely dignity and pride in the their faith of surviving without federal funding and in spite of being squeezed of federal funding.

That lesson from the pages of history is an illuminating one. Our political landscape is currently in a very unpredictable and fuzzy state. Is there any point in PR crowing and boasting about how well state is doing?

Positive reports are impressive and leaves one with a syiok sendiri feeling but when rakyat vote, it will be based on how well they are REALLY doing. In the light of rising food prices, people are not as happy as PR may think. So PR had better be aware!

In reality, there are many individuals, families and large groups which have been pushed to the margins of society. These marginalized citizens are limited in education and employment opportunities as well as social and community networks. They have little access to power and decision-making and few opportunities to improve their standard of living.

Most worrying is that in time, more and more will be marginalized and if things do not improve in every area of governance, what will happen to Malaysia?

It is imperative that the government focuses on addressing real and serious issues that affect the rakyat instead of pushing their grandiose dreams and going on spending sprees. Tax revenue is from the rakyat and should directly benefit the rakyat in relevant ways.

Poverty is still very real in many ways with greater income inequality as the current system has serious limitations. According to the Central Intelligence Agency of US, 3.6% of the population (2007) live below the poverty line. Imagine - just a few years ago, a can of tuna was RM2.80. Three or four years down the road, that same can of tuna is RM4.90 whilst our real income has not risen much!

Whilst the government has said it has provided subsidies to reduce the people’s burden in purchasing rice, RON 95 petrol, diesel and cooking gas, the fact remains that the cost of living in Malaysia has gone up. Many are living from hand to mouth.

It is imperative that Pakatan Rakyat comes up with concrete proposals to tell the rakyat as to how they will help us.

For over fifty years, we have seen how many politicians mudah lupa and then completely lupa. We have seen how some have put self-interest and party interest far above the rakyat's interest. All that has to end. Are they willing to walk the extra mile for us? They had better!

- masterwordsmith

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