By P Ramakrishnan
The prime minister’s declared stand is, “I’m a Malay first…” Is it any wonder the Budget is so lopsided, discriminatory and prone to the Malays?
Budget 2021 is not for ALL Malaysians. It is not even for all the poor, the deserving and the downtrodden Malaysians. Shouldn’t they be the main recipients of government support?
Regrettably, it is outrageously sectarian and discriminatory. A discriminatory budget is a disgrace to our sense of justice and fairness.
Why doesn’t this Budget reflect the values of Islam which emphasise justice and fairness? It is a pity that what we see in the Budget is nothing but hypocrisy at its height even though it is couched as a caring budget for all.
It is not an egalitarian budget. It is a monolithic budget primarily catering for one section of a community, the benefits going only to the rich and powerful – not to the rural poor whose name is exploited by powerful politicians to grab the lion’s share of the nation’s wealth.
The huge allocations in the Budget running into billions will not reach the poor Malays though they were intended for them; the elite will siphon off much of it. More than 46 years of seemingly active and aggressive effort and endeavour since 1974 to lift the poor, rural Malays had failed miserably, simply because much of the aid didn’t reach them but went into the pockets of greedy politicians. This so-called approach to uplift the poor Malays has failed miserably and only created hundreds of Malay millionaires who are politicians.
Isn’t it time to help all the neglected poor, irrespective of race?
This Budget is insensitive and lacking in foresight for the nation. It does not recognise that poverty knows no barriers, and it is the duty of the government to pull out the desperate poor from the pits of poverty.
Under the Constitution, there cannot be this discrimination of Malaysians. First and foremost, aren’t we human beings, irrespective of our colour and creed?
Without meaning to be racial, let’s look at facts objectively.
The Malays are allocated RM11.1bn for “bumiputera development”, compared to RM100m for the Indian community’s socioeconomic development.
It is an insult to the Indian community that has contributed to the growth and development of our country through sweat and tears, slogging in the rubber estates under stressful conditions, paving the roads and laying the railway tracks under the blistering sun, serving in the civil service as the backbone of an institution that has served us well.
It is unthinkable that a political propaganda machinery (Jasa) should receive almost as much as that allocated to the Indian community; it is a disgrace to our sense of justice. Jasa, the Special Affairs Department, receives RM85.5 million compared to the RM100m given to the Indians. This works out to 86% of what the entire Indian community in the country receives. The government is overgenerous to an agency that is noted for its lies and fake news in the past!
We already have a ministry of communications and state-run television and radio to disseminate government policies. Why do we need another agency for the same purpose?
There are about two million Indians in the country. The RM100m allocation for the Indian community works out to RM50 per person per year, or RM4 per month or a miserable 14 sen per day!
The estimated 7.4 million Chinese are treated no better. They are provided RM177m. A simple calculation reveals the miserly sum the Chinese are entitled to under the Budget: RM24 per person per year; RM2 per month or 7 sen per day!
The hardworking Chinese have contributed tremendously to the progress, growth and development of Malaysia. Living in hovels initially, which gradually grew to hamlets, they were later relocated to New Villages. From nothing, they progressed slowly.
By sheer endeavour, they rose to become a settled community by farming, mining and working in the construction industry. They lifted themselves out of poverty all on their own and paid 90% of the taxes, which helped the country to provide services to the people.
For their remarkable contribution, what is allocated to the Chinese community is a gross injustice.
A third group of people – the most exploited in their country of origin – are the Orang Asli, the most dispossessed and deprived of all citizens of Malaysia. They do not receive what they are entitled to as the original people of Malaya. It is to our utter shame that they continue to be exploited, neglected and marginalised.
Lives and livelihoods matter, but that didn’t seem to matter to the prime minister whose declared stand is, “I’m a Malay first…” Is it any wonder if the Budget is so lopsided, discriminatory and prone to the Malays?
We are heartened by the principled stand taken by Shafie Apdal. Shafie, the bravest and most honest Malay politician at this crucial moment, has spoken from the heart, with all sincerity, what no other Malay politician from both sides of the divide has dared to speak.
He declared, “We must ensure that the Budget will be used for nation-building. Not for building a race. Not for building a religion. This is the way forward for the country,”
We hope there will be other MPs of character and courage who will be as forthright in this matter. We pray they will vote with their conscience and defeat this undemocratic Budget because it is not a budget for all Malaysians. This Budget doesn’t deserve the support of caring and conscious MPs. It must be defeated!
Remember, “The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.”
(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)
This article was published on 21 November in this link.