Monday, 13 April 2015

The Malaysian Dilemma

Malaysians talk about the further increase in the cost of living since the Goods and Services Tax was implemented two weeks ago. We are at the adjustment stage as we try to come to terms with the changes that are affecting our daily lives.

We are definitely looking at the bill more closely. Even if we are prepared for the 6% GST to show up, we grumble why we have to pay 10% for service charge as well.

We now check our receipts more carefully because we do not want any extra charges to show up. Let’s get real. We are all affected by the rising cost of living.

At roadside stalls, where no GST is charged, we also notice that the food portion has shrunk or the price has gone up slightly. Yes, even these stallholders need to earn more to make ends meet.

This is what most Malaysians talk about in their daily conversations. If our politicians and bureaucrats think these are all made up, then they are either in self-denial or living on another planet, which means they really deserve to be sacked from their jobs.

Stop waiting for just good news which you only want to hear. If you want real feedback, talk to real people, not apple polishers or opportunists.The typical Malaysian wage-earner cannot escape the taxman as everything is deducted at source. So there is always a gap between the actual salary and the take-home pay after all the statutory deductions.

Not only does he have to juggle his expenses, he also cannot be sure about the annual increment exercise. After all, employers also can cite reasons like weak market sentiments to reduce the increments and bonuses.

Middle class Malaysians are the worst off. They are truly squeezed in the middle. They can’t qualify for BR1M and they are too poor to live the life of the rich and famous of Bangsar.

Our leaders can rattle off statistics to convince us how well the Malaysian econo­my is doing but we are sorry to tell them that the trickle-down effects are not being felt at all. Most of us are not reporting roaring businesses. Try talking to those in the retail business especially.

So the last thing we are interested in are squabbling politicians. They include retired politicians who just can’t accept the fact that they are retired. And then there are those still in service who really need to get special lessons on how to provide convincing and truthful answers during interviews.

Either way, Malaysians are not amused with the daily overdose of news about murder conspiracies, alleged missing money and plots to overthrow the leader­ship – not when many of us have to put food on the table and figure out where the money should go this month.

Their next more important item, of course, is to prepare themselves for their coming party elections. Economic issues? That’s too difficult to understand and explain to the village folks. It doesn’t have emotional appeal and it will be difficult to grab the attention of the ceramah crowds.

And of course, it doesn’t help that the ringgit has shrunk. The cost of doing business has gone up and it has also become more expensive for those of us with children studying overseas.

If there’s any consolation, the price of petrol has just gone down a bit, but the hawkers have not reduced their prices since the last time the prices of crude oil went up. For many businesses, what goes up need not come down, never mind the law of gravity.

But just when we think our politicians on the opposite sides of the divide must disagree on everything, it is interesting to note that when it comes to increasing the allowances of our elected representatives, there is almost brotherly love and reconci­liation in the august hall from everyone. No need to call for block voting, all in favour, just say “aye”. It is amazing what money can do.

We want our MPs to stop sleeping on the job and to actually take part in ­voting in Parliament instead of sneaking off somewhere with pathetic excuses.

We want politicians who understand what real Malaysians have to put up with every day, and to help us deal with them. These are issues that affect all of us, whatever our race or religion, and there is no need to see everything through political eyes. It should not be about helping only those who will vote for them.

Live your lives as we simple folks do. Be sensitive, listen to us. Don’t talk down to us. That is all we ask for – remember we elected you and not the other way around.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Crimson tide

“ Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.” ― Mark Twain

Politics is our daily fare fed to a public already burdened with the prospect of an uncertain future fraught with a minefield of religious and racial overtones that threatens each and everyone of us on a Personal basis. 

Each and everyone of us is affected by these issues. Our jobs, our family, our future are all put on hold while politicians bicker and nit pick over issues that really has no credibility to be discussed anywhere else but within the four walls of their own political dens of antiquity. 

We need to ask ourselves what really matters. Rule of law, due process, civic and civil liberties...freedom, respect and graciousness towards each other matters. Really when it comes to the crux of it all it is not hudud that really matters. In time it will be consigned to the backwaters of politics where it deserves to be consigned to. Get out of the "stupidity box" and allow yourself the right to stand on the side of right thinking Malaysians who understands that the leaders of tomorrow are made today - and understand that the work you do today will determine who these leaders will be. 

As JFK famously said at his inaugural address :

"Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country" 

You should ask yourself that same question....if you do not then you will leave our country in the hands of politicians that you now see around you. Politicians who cheat and lie. Politicians who are corrupt and arrogant...and politicians who have no regard for anything else but their own financial well being. This we cannot do, this we should not do and this is certainly what we must never do for we have seen what politics have already done to our country. 

Whether your loyalty is to a person, a party, or to the country. Because the last time I checked, no one is bigger than this nation. Our interest supersedes that of the prime minister, members of the Cabinet, their wives and that includes the Opposition Leader. 

Unless you are politically affiliated, we need to be able to make decisions and think objectively, independent of political influences and pressures. 

Wrong is wrong. Right is right be it from the government or the Opposition. Opposing for the sake of opposing, and supporting for the sake of supporting will get us nowhere. 

Hence the rut we are in. 

Anyone who tells you otherwise, for whatever reasons, has a political and personal motive. 

And if you are smart enough to see that, you will realise the need to rise beyond that. Beyond individual, party and familial politics. It is time we fight for the country instead of one person. Or party. Or family. 

Whoever that person, party or family might be. 

National interest comes first. Everything else is a disposable second.