Change my lifestyle? Who me? – Urban poor in a kampong in Penang Island
Here they go again, telling you to change your life-style:
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 (Bernama) — It is important for Malaysians to change their lifestyle to help bring down the consumption of non-renewable energy while measures are being implemented to alleviate the hardship arising from cost-push inflation, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said.
I am not sure what the pakciks and makciks in the kampongs, long-houses, estates, orang asli settlements, low-cost flats and urban pioneer settlements will make of this. And let’s not forget the migrant workers crammed 20-to-a-house. They are certainly not the ones cruising the roads in their Mercs or BMWs and spending RM10 on a cup of latte.
Here’s a response from Justin Choo:
Makciks and Pakciks, kampongs and long houses, may be far away in the rural areas. You have not mentioned the retired people like me. No more active income. Some still got to feed grandchildren. I live a very, very simple lifestyle. No smoking, no drinking, no gambling, no womanising (too old lah, and also not rich!), always stay at home, eat small breakfast, and two simple meals a day, drive an old red “taxi” Proton Saga, and wear shorts and T-shirt, and slippers. What lifestyle to change? The only change is upgrade! Eat the most sumptious cuisine in fine-dining style? Savour fine wines and caviar, birdnest soup, abalone with scallops, baked lobsters drenched in the finest red wine. Fly to New York, Paris and London for shopping, etc…. How nice.
Let’s see the Ministers leading by example and dumping their petrol-guzzling cars, with all the escorts and outriders, and taking public transport everyday.
Some quick points from the Budget:
The Budget deficit has crept up to a worrying 4.8 per cent of GDP this year (2008) despite record high oil prices.
Now we are bracing for a global economic slowdown, triggered by what some economists are predicting could be the worst US recession since the Great Depression. Can we really achieve the forecasted budget deficit of 3.6 per cent next year? Isn’t that forecast a bit too optimistic?
We seen to be spending a lot on infrastructure (the hardware), but what about improving the skills and capabilities of workers (the software, so to speak)?
What exactly has been done to promote sustainable jobs?
How are we going to protect workers from possible retrenchment? Will there be a retrenchment fund to assist such workers?
What is our policy on reducing reliance on migrant workers? Shouldn’t we have a minimum wage?
The unofficial inflation rate is probably closer to 10 per cent. It is good that the government has increased the minimum pension, but this is not going to substantially improve the quality of life.
More concrete policies are needed to deal with the following key areas:
- housing – perhaps greater subsidies for rentals of low-cost housing.
- public transport – greater investments and subsidies not just for the cities but all major towns across the country.
- health care – again, a worrying emphasis on health tourism at a time when there are not enough specialists in government service.
- food – more subsidies needed for essential food items to make them affordable.
- environment – what are we doing to slow down global warming and protect the environment?
When I saw the allocation of RM475 million for agricultural inputs, fertilisers and pesticides to assist padi farmers, the first thought that came to mind was that it would benefit corporate agriculture, especially the agri-chemical suppliers and the agrobusiness firms.
Are there any allocations to promote sustainable (organic agriculture) and research into renewable energy such as solar energy?
While it is good that the eligibility income threshold for social welfare aid has been raised, many people are still receiving insufficient assistance. One MP told me there is not enough assistance for single mothers. He said there are many such cases in his constituency such as the one he encountered of a single mother with four children who had run out of money and simply couldn’t afford to feed them all. How does this Budget help people like them?
Shouldn’t we be revamping our social security system to make sure no one is left hungry or homeless or without a balanced diet?