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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

For those trapped in poverty, there’s little joy during Merdeka


Syamsiah Sihabudin sells curry mee and laksa in Klang.

KLANG: Syamsiah Sihabudin considers herself a patriot, but she has given up on the country.

For the 56-year-old, there’s nothing “liberating” about the misfortunes that have plagued her and the nation of which sees her trapped in poverty.

The hawker who sells curry mee and laksa is part of the 144,932 households that are categorised as hardcore poor, a surge from the 44,829 recorded two years ago.

Often, Syamsiah, who earns between RM1,200 and RM1,500 a month, skips meals just so she can help provide for her husband and two children.

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Her husband is an odd-job worker who plies his trade in villages for an irregular income.

“I don’t hoist a flag at my stall, but I do love my country. Yet, I am also very sad,” she told FMT.

One reason is because she feels that those like her are often forgotten by the bickering politicians in power, who only make an appearance when an election is around the corner.

“And after that they just vanish,” she said.

Similarly, for Anggamal Venggu, the harsh reality she endures means any display of patriotism takes a back seat.

Earning enough to put food on the table is of utmost priority for the 56-year-old babysitter.

Anggamal Venggu’s seven children are married and have families of their own, but she wants to be independent.

“While some will be busy celebrating Merdeka, I will be busy caring for other children just so I can afford rice, eggs and other necessities,” she said.

She earns RM1,000 a month, a measly sum when taking into account the rising cost of basic necessities and goods.

Anggamal’s seven children are married and have families of their own, but she wants to be independent.

“So I may not have time to hoist a flag, but it doesn’t mean I forget about Merdeka,” she said.

Like Syamsiah, she scoffs at the mere mention of politicians coming to her aid. Politicians, she said, cannot be relied upon.

“They are busy tussling for power. We, the people, have to fend for ourselves.”

While she expects aid to pour in as the general election inches closer, Anggamal cynically regards it as an attempt to buy votes.

“And after that they’re nowhere to be seen. It’s the same during every election.” - FMT

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