Pardon me for ignoring the Cabinet reshuffle. It’s just a few new ambitious faces replacing a few tired personalities. Some minor hoo-ha over Mukhriz edging past Khairy into the Cabinet. There’s even a Green Technology Minister – and perhaps with this ‘green’ theme in mind a discarded state chief minister has been recycled into a cabinet minister. But in the larger scheme of things, the basic economic orientation of the country remains the same. Over the last few years, we have seen a drastic rise in social ills – crime, drug addiction, depression…you name it. What is behind all this? One possible reason is the alienation of the human being/workers as a result of the industrialisation process. Another possibility is the disillusionment and discontentment fuelled by relative poverty and marginalisation under the “trickle-down” economic approach. Then comes a newbook, The Spirit Level, revealing that countries with greater income inequalities experience [Read more]
It is totally weird, bewildering and disturbing that certain politicians and members of the press see it as their patriotic duty to chase homeless people on the streets of George Town… Is it any wonder why these street people fear these rough “rescue operations” so much? Do those who are “rounding up” these people know where these street people are being sent to and what conditions are like there? The Social Welfare Department should ask itself why these people are so afraid of being “rescued”. Has anyone stopped and thought about the root causes of such homelessness and what kind of social safety nets we have? The press were there to cover the operations but that did not stop one press member from going on his motorbike in hot pursuit of a homeless person, already being pursued by the political secretary to the CM no less. Reminds me of journalists [Read more]
An eye-opening video produced by a team of citizen journalists in Penang. Courtesy of Obnoxious 5xMom’s blog. Great work by these citizen journalists in putting a human face to the street people, who are often “invisible” to passers-by. The scary thing is that more people could be forced on to the streets as retrenchments soar and people are unable to pay rentals or housing loan repayments. It should prompt us to ask what kind of social welfare or security system we have in place and whether it is enough. These street people are periodically rounded up by the authorities – but where are they sent to? The video reminds me of the haunting lyrics of Ralph McTell’s ballad ‘Streets of London’: Have you seen the old man In the closed-down market Kicking up the paper, with his worn out shoes? In his eyes you see no pride And held loosely [Read more]
A blog reader has mentioned the following in the comments section, which I thought was worth highlighting. When you consider the immense resources that Sarawak and Sabah have at their disposal, you have to wonder why their poverty rates are higher than the other states with around the same household income: The core issue in Sarawak is governance and distribution within Sarawak. Don’t fall for the federal-state ploy, although there are of course serious issues there. This can be seen, e.g., when one compares the average household income in Sarawak with that in other states. Below are the numbers for 2004 as published in the 9th Malaysia Plan, and sorted by average household income from highest to lowest:
An enormous package that exceeds the expectations of most people – two weeks before the Umno general assembly. RM60 billion of our money! And guess what? RM29 billion of this is slated for “assisting the private sector”. The “boys” will be licking their lips and rubbing their hands in anticipation. (I can just picture it – stimulated by the stimulus package!) First off, the obvious question: where is this money coming from? “Domestic sources,” says Najib, cryptically. Apparently, there’s “ample liquidity” in the system. And secondly, what mysteries lie hidden behind the RM60 billion? Let’s keep it simple. The RM60 billion package comprises: RM15 billion in fiscal injection (RM10 billion in 2009 and RM5 billion in 2010). Fiscal deficit expected to rise to 7.6 per cent in 2009; RM25 billion in guarantee funds (RM5 billion for SME Working Capital Fund, another RM5 billion for Industry Restructuring Fund and the rest?) [Read more]
Okay, folks, I will be off to Kuala Terengganu tomorrow with a friend to check out the by-election scene. All the hotels are likely to be full, so I will take a tent along and just rough it out. It will be a homecoming of sorts, as I lived in Kuala Terengganu for two years, going to Standard One and Two at the Sultan Sulaiman Primary School. I must check out our old house there to see if it is still standing…. In the meantime, this was was taken from a posting by Pelanuk on the Berita Malaysia email list. Did the Pas administration in Terengganu, without the benefit of oil royalties, actually do better than Umno in reducing poverty in the state? > Staronline today reports Terengganu MB Ahmad Said as saying that “claims > that the Terengganu Government is rich but its people are poor are all > [Read more]
According to Najib, the government is willing to help Malays advance in other countries where they are a minority. He said this when opening the the Malay World Muslim World (DMDI) forum’s ninth convention on 23 December, reports Malaysiakini. The deputy premier said ethnic Malays in the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Cambodia, South Africa and southern Thailand could be assisted. What would have been the reaction if the deputy premier of India and the vice premier of China had offered to help the ethnic Indians and ethnic Chinese respectively in the various countries of South-East Asia? Wouldn’t the governments of this region have asked them to butt out, citing foreign interference in domestic affairs?
A supermarket security guard keeping an eye at the milk aisle – Photo by Ganesh At Christmas, we recall the birth of Jesus in the midst of poverty and oppression. As we party and feast and make merry, it’s worth asking: did he have enough nourishing food as a baby bearing in mind that his parents were humble peasants struggling to make ends meet? Were they able to provide him with a balanced diet during his formative years? Let’s spare a thought for workers, including factory operators earning RM600 to RM800 per month, who are finding it increasingly difficult to afford milk for their children. Recently, for instance, a woman complained to an activist that a portion of loose powdered milk (it’s cheaper sold in bulk; not in tins) in a sundry shop along Penang Street frequented by those from the lower-income group that used to cost RM7.50 before the [Read more]
The sudden postponement of the scheme to privatise the National Heart Institute (IJN) suggests that the government under-estimated the depth of public opposition to the move. The postponement comes just a day after Najib revealed that the green light had been given to Sime Darby to acquire a majority stake. The Umno elite appear to be out of touch not only with the masses but also with their own BN component parties such as the MCA, which is opposing the privatisation. Or were they just testing the waters (to gauge public reaction), as some of you suggest? To me, the real heroes are the 33 IJN specialists (out of a total of 35) who stood up to oppose the move. Their stand is all the more commendable as chances are they would have stood to gain in terms of a more lucrative pay package. It is great to know there [Read more]
1212: Some 120 Jerit cyclists are now in Parliament, where they will be having lunch and handing over their memorandums to a rep from the BN and the Opposition. It’s mission accomplished! Congratulations to the Jerit team. 1145: About 30 participants of the Jerit cycling teams are now in Parliament to hand in their memorandum amidst a heavy police presence, including a helicopter clattering overhead. Earlier they were barred from cycling to Parliament. “The OCPD told us we could head to Parliament, but not on our bicycles,” says Jerit coordinator Rani Rasiah.