Final preparations: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak getting into his vehicle outside his office at the Treasury building at Putrajaya. Najib, who is also Finance Minister, has been busy finalising the details on his Budget 2015 speech, which he will table at the Dewan Rakyat tomorrow. — Bernama
KUALA LUMPUR: Whenever one talks about the economy and policies to improve it, invariably the plight of the vulnerable is taken into account.
No segment of society is neglected and inclusive development is about ensuring that the bottom 40% of the population are catered to by implementing equitable policies and initiatives to assist them.
In Malaysia, a number of social welfare programmes are in place targeted at this group. Unfortunately, they remain unknown – hardly highlighted in the media or talked about by the recipients.
Take the food baskets for the urban poor programme, for example. How many of us are actually aware of this?
It provides these households with a monthly allocation of RM80 credited into their MyKad to buy essential food such as rice, sugar, flour, bread and eggs from hypermarkets with a wide coverage in urban areas.
For these 3,500 families, the removal of the stress of figuring out where their next meal is coming from helps them focus on earning an income.
Then there are community feeding initiatives such as the ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) and milk programme for the orang asli, which sees the delivery of RUTF and milk to indigenous communities in rural areas in the peninsula, as well as Sabah and Sarawak.
The programme also sees health experts monitor the health of orang asli children every six months to ensure improvement in their nutrition levels and provide ongoing support for their healthy development.
Urban homelessness is another pervasive problem. The lack of shelter makes the homeless vulnerable to dangers, including becoming victims of crime, exposure to bad weather and the inability to find employment and earn an income.
Thus, the Government started Anjung Singgah Homes for the urban homeless, providing them a temporary home till they get back on their feet.
Developed countries have similar programmes and the fact that they have been put in place in Malaysia speaks volumes about the commitment of the Government to ensure equitable development for all. Needless to say, more money could be spent on these programmes.
That is one of the reasons why subsidy rationalisation is necessary – to ensure that national funds are allocated towards beneficial initiatives to help the bottom 40% of society.
A Home Help Services for the Elderly is now available for the aged from low-income groups, providing services such as home help and cleaning services, running errands and providing meals to those who lack mobility.
The Government is also working with non-governmental organisation Epic Homes to build modern homes with clean running water and electricity for the orang asli.
The plight of the Penan often makes headlines and the Government has been criticised for not coming to the aid of the community in Sarawak.
But what has not been highlighted are the number of economic enablers initiated particularly for the Penan under the low-income households National Key Result Area of the Government Transformation Programme.
These include dental treatment and health services, a community feeding programme, education fund and cottage industries focusing on Penan handicraft.
At the end of the day, it seems we are far too fond of attacking the Government for doing nothing, without knowing the full measure of what is being done.
Ultimately, these are just some of the initiatives which will ensure that all Malaysians benefit from development and have access to a good standard of living, and not just the chosen few.
News Commentary: Bernama
Source: the Star Online;
Published on: Thursday, October 9, 2014