Sunday July 12, 2009
Najib marks 100 days with people-friendly measures
By TEH ENG HOCK and CHEW WAN YING
KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak marked his 100th day as Prime Minister by announcing 11 people-friendly measures – including a toll discount for frequent users and a new trust fund – to address some longstanding public grievances.
So what goodies are we suppose to be deliriously happy about?
> a 20% toll discount for frequent users who pay toll 80 times a month or more via the Smart Tag or Touch ’n Go, effective Sept 1;
Peanuts are better than nothing. You have to spend RM2,500 a month on toll then you get RM500, enough to pay for your kancil installment. Under the lopsided toll agreement, YAB, does the people, er…government has to compensate the toll companies if the discounts resulting in profits less than the guaranteed amount?
What about the KL-Seremban Toll? In early 1980's the toll rate was about RM1.20 if I remember correctly and now it is a whopping RM7.20? What kind of a business model you call that?
Why the 80 times, reward for frequent users no doubt but what about those who are crammed into LRT and buses? The majority of the poor with motorcycles, bicycles or on their own feet who would cut down traveling and avoid toll roads would not get anything out of it. Would this toll reduce significantly the cost of transport of all goods and services?
> some 44,000 low-cost houses under the Program Perumahan Rakyat in the Federal Territory offered for sale to existing tenants;
At the same time, many residents in Air Panas setinggan area are dispatched to Kerinchi PPR despite belief that there are empty units in Air Panas. Considering theirs schools, jobs and General Hospital are in the vicinity; their appeals to be relocated back to Air Panas are flatly rejected.
> a 50% discount on licences for petty traders in the Federal Territory;
Ask how easy is it to get a trade licence nowadays. I have came across an old man asking for a business licence from DBKL so that he could trade as a mobile hawker and he was instead asked to apply for 8 fixed location license so that he could carry out his business plans
> setting up a new trust fund, Amanah Saham 1Malaysia, with a maximum size of 10 billion units. Those above 18 are eligible to invest. Under the Amanah Saham Wawasan scheme, 10,000 poverty-stricken urban households under the E-Kasih list would receive 10,000 units per household by 2010.
One wonders how the trust funds are being managed. The share market does seem to be propped up pretty well lately, isn’t it? Still stuck in the rent seeking, share holding mode instead of human capital development and capacity building. Back to the give the man a fish rather than teaching and enabling he to fish. Meanwhile, would the 10,000 unit for 10,000 families means the other subscribers are paying for the 100,000,000 units? Did I not paid taxes already so that Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat (JKM) can assist the poor?
Presently, under the JKM assistance programme, disable people (OKUs) can either get RM300 a month if they are capable of working whereas if they are unable to work, then the entitlement is RM180. When was the last time you observe a JKM task force coming out and proactively seeking out people who are in need but ignorant?
When you go into a government office, do you feel that you will get prompt, efficient, sensible, fair and reassuring services? Do you get multi-cultural and linguist capability that can emphasize and understand our diversified society better? I am not speaking for the smarter and younger generations but those elders who have contributed a life time to this country and it is a challenge for them to express themselves in languages they seldom use.
Malaysia is in such a rut that if a YAB pick up any trash or rubbish and do a little bit of work on it, he or she will come out smelling like roses. We have set a very low standard to better.
While I give him credit for trying, and also acknowledge that this initiative is as a result of competition and pressure from Pakatan Rakyat, I am a bit disappointed as the basic livelihood issues of the common Ali, Chong and Muthu in the street are not addressed such as rising cost of living, satisfactory performance level of civil servants, crime and opportunity to make a living without being shackled by excessive bureaucracy and exercise of discretion.
There is also no addressing of the human capital issues. If the brainiest Malaysians can be groomed, retained and enticed back in Malaysia, and given ample reward and adequate support in their work so that they can contribute to the better function of this country be it in the commercial and industry sector, civil service (especially education and healthcare) as well as NGO scenes.
The glaring thing missing is a revamp of the workings of the national piggy bank, Petronas. Still shrouded in mystery. There is no serious consideration how to use Petronas as a tool to assist Malaysians in times of economic hardship. No serious address on corruption as well because once you get rid of this scourge, the cost of business and living will be reduced and I am sure we will all taste, feel , enjoy and relish a new way of living.
Tall asking? No. Developed countries have these things in place a long time ago and it is time the country wakes up from Badawi's slumber.