Fundraising walkathons for bailouts and fighter jets?

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Most of us have done it while we were in school. You know, taking part in walkathons and donation drives to help the school build a new wing or to carry out urgent repairs. And we usually thought nothing of it and were glad to chip in.

But a friend of mine phoned this evening sounding upset that their child had been asked to take part in a school donation drive.

“No way is my child going from house to house to collect money for the school,” my friend told me. “I have written a letter to the school to tell them that my child is not to be involved in such fund-raising activities. And I told my daughter that if the teacher or the principal is unhappy, they should get in touch with me.”

“I mean, I am paying a lot in income tax; where is all that money going? Why should my child then go from house to house raising money for her (government) school?”

My friend has a point. After all the money the government has wasted on mega projects, our schools are still short of funds – especially schools in the interior areas and many of the Tamil vernacular schools.

But funny how we are never short of funds when it comes to buying the latest multi-million ringgit submarines or advanced fighter jets – or for the latest bailout. How many billions of ringgit have we spent on bailing out failed projects?. Now we have the fiasco over the Klang Port Free Zone – which is proving to be far from “free”. In fact, pretty expensive, if you ask me – a worthy contender for mega scandal of the year.

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When was the last time you saw government officials going from house to house, cap in hand, trying to raise funds to buy a fighter jet or to bail out a failed mega project?

This is not a peculiarly Malaysian situation. Take Pakistan, for instance: it allocated US$4.2 billion on “defence” out of its US$21.7 billion federal budget compared to only 2 per cent of GDP on education.

And let’s not even talk about America. Listen to Robert Dreyfuss:

And it’s important to keep in mind that the official Pentagon budget doesn’t begin to tell the full story of American “defense” spending. In addition to the $650 billion that the Pentagon will get in 2008, huge additional sums will be spent on veterans care and interest on the national debt accumulated from previous DOD spending that ballooned the deficit. In all, those two accounts add $263 billion to the Pentagon budget, for a grand total of $913 billion.

Gulp! Nearly US$1 trillion on “defence”.

So I have a suggestion. Instead of donation drives for schools, why don’t we have walkathons to raise funds for the latest fighter jets and bailouts. I am sure the public would gladly chip in for such a good cause.

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