12MP: Klang MP questions lack of concrete plans to help poor, marginalised Malaysians hit by Covid-19

A lawmaker wondered if the recently announced 12th Malaysia Plan could truly help victims of the Covid-19 pandemic, namely the B40, the lower M40 group, and micro-business owners who were hit hard by the various lockdowns since March last year.

Klang MP Charles Santiago said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had repeatedly espoused the virtues of ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ and ‘Shared Prosperity’ but had not outlined how poor and marginalised Malaysians would benefit from those ideals.

“Have we addressed these crucial issues in the 12th Malaysia Plan? Definitely not. What it reveals, is the remarkable story of tone-deaf politicians who still believe they can gloss over facts, with ‘cute’ words and get away with it,” said Santiago.

“In the last two years, the country’s social protection system was inadequate and ineffective in responding to job losses, loss of livelihoods and income during the pandemic.”

Santiago highlighted:

+ Some 580,000 M40 households slipped into the B40 category.

  • The income distribution for these two groups (M40 and B40) declined, while the rich (T20 group), saw an increment of 0.4 percentage, owning 47.2 per cent of total income.
  • The Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) revealed that 46 per cent, or 7.32 million of its members below the age of 55, had less than RM10,000 in their accounts.
  • UNICEF’s ‘Families on the Edge’ report showed that low-income families had to cut down on food intake due to job losses, and as income dropped.
  • The Statistics Department revealed that in the second quarter of 2021, 143,500 people in the 45-64 age group lost their jobs, while 283,000 individuals, between the ages of 15-24, were left unemployed in the same period.

“Despite such gloom, the 12th Malaysia Plan, which is a comprehensive outline of government development policies and strategies, has failed to re-think social protection and make it the key policy to drive the nation forward to ‘build back better’ in a post Covid-19 environment.

“A robust social protection system aims to reduce poverty, inequality and vulnerability in the labour market. In addition, it is designed to boost human capital, empower women and respond to economic uncertainties.”

Santiago made several suggestions, including:

  • Register and establish an insurance scheme for informal workers.

Most informal workers who have been laid off, have not received financial support as compared to those in the formal sector. The government needs to therefore, amend the law and establish an Employment Insurance Scheme for informal workers as a way of providing them with income security.

  • Revamp the Household Living Aid (BSH)

Provide an urgent RM1,000 monthly cash transfer to the absolute, and hardcore poor households, including groups who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

  • Job guarantee scheme

Funds be given out to employers, professional groups, non-governmental organisations, and trade unions to hire unemployed persons. Recipients of the fund must undergo skills training to ensure they can find their way back into the labour market.

  •  Review minimum wage

A new minimum wage system should be supported by a separate fund to help reduce the burden of small, and medium enterprises. An annual fund of RM15 billion should be set aside during the transition period towards the effort.

“The government must look at an inclusive system, which narrows the poverty gap and addresses vulnerability. Otherwise, the ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ and ‘Shared Prosperity’ taglines will remain just empty rhetoric,” he added.

Here are Twentytwo13’s news highlights.

DAIM, TENGKU ZAFRUL AMONG THOSE NAMED IN PANDORA PAPERS

Former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin, and Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz were among several Malaysians named in the ‘Pandora Papers’.

The papers revealed the offshore financial assets of present and past world leaders, and politicians, worldwide.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained 11.9 million confidential documents from 14 separate legal and financial services firms, which the group said offered “a sweeping look at an industry that helps the world’s ultra-wealthy, powerful government officials, and other elites conceal trillions of dollars from tax authorities, prosecutors and others.”

Daim, however, refuted the report, adding that his business dealings were legal, while Tengku Zafrul’s aide said his boss was no longer a director of the firm named in the papers.

Other Malaysians named in the papers included Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Jho Low’s parents – Larry Low Hock Ping and Goh Gaik Ewe – Selayang MP William Leong, Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir (son of former Sarawak governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud), Westports Holdings executive chairman and director Tan Sri G. Gnanalingam, and Genting Group chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay.

DON’T STOKE RACIAL TENSIONS, WARNS NATIONAL UNITY MINISTRY

The National Unity Ministry was the latest to lambast a Bersatu politician, for posting a racist remark against national shuttler S. Kisona.

“Sports has been a platform to unite the people, regardless of race or religion, but this has been smeared by certain irresponsible and insensitive individuals who have ignited anger,” said the ministry in a statement this afternoon.

“Malaysians, especially social media users, are reminded not to play with words that can cause racial disharmony. Although it may be one word, it is uncalled for, especially in a country that comprises different cultures.

“All parties must avoid using words that can hurt the feelings of other races. This is to maintain unity and harmony, in the spirit of ‘Keluarga Malaysia’.”

‘WE HAVE ENOUGH LAWS TO ADDRESS RACISM, AUTHORITIES MUST ENFORCE THEM’

Deputy Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker said there were sufficient laws to safeguard the safety and harmony of the nation.

“The authorities and enforcement agencies, however, must enforce these laws,” said Ti.

“The courts must then apply exemplary, or deterrent punishments to reflect the severity or seriousness of the offence.”

The MCA vice-president was responding to Twentytwo13′s article published this morning. It was in relation to the racial slur made in a social media posting against shuttler S. Kisona, who had represented Malaysia in the Sudirman Cup.

COPS RECORD STATEMENTS OVER CLAIMS TEENS DIED DUE TO COVID-19 VACCINE

Police recorded statements from several individuals, including a 39-year-old suspect, over claims that two secondary school students in Ipoh had died after getting their Covid-19 vaccinations.

The suspect admitted to making the statement in a video that had been widely shared, said Perak police chief Datuk Mior Faridalathrash Wahid.

The case is being investigated under Section 504 and 505(b) of the Penal Code.

The Health Ministry, last Wednesday, said that investigations showed that a 17-year-old female student from SMK Tasek Damai, Ipoh, was an insulin-dependent Type 1 diabetes patient and had been infected with Covid-19. She died on Aug 18, before the Covid-19 National Immunisation Programme for Adolescents, was rolled out. The other student, a 17-year-old male from the same school with underlying congenital heart disease, died due to sepsis.

SOCIAL EVENTS LAST ON THE LIST

Social gatherings like weddings and birthday bashes are among the last activities to be allowed despite Malaysia recording a drop in the number of daily Covid-19 cases.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said he was not convinced that the standard operating procedures could be observed during such events.

“Let’s see how we behave after inter-state travel is allowed,” he tweeted.

Malaysia recorded 8,075 new Covid-19 cases today.

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