The Minister of Housing and Local Government and MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said that he is going to standardize the poverty line. He also said that the Barisan should be applauded as they are the only one able to provide subsidies to the poor. He said the Barisan should be supported by the people instead of the opposition party, because all the opposition party can do is to scold Barisan.
We wish to remind the Barisan Nasional, in case, they have forgotten after living in the ivory towers for 50 years, that poverty is not determined by a stroke of the pen. Drawing a line on a piece of paper does not fill-up an empty belly. It does not provide shelter from the sun and the rain. It does not provide money for electricity for heat and light and to pay the water bills. The Government should not be playing around with statistics to determine poverty. They should implement policies and programmes to provide real and substantive mechanisms to allow the poor to obtain employment and income to break out of the vicious cycle of poverty.
The Barisan Government instead of gloating that it is able to provide subsidies to the poor should instead hang its head in shame. This is because after 50 years of independence, it has failed to eradicate poverty. It should stop trying to manipulate the statistics because statistics are just numbers depending on how the person wants to use them. The simple truth is that the number of poor has been increasing. The percentage of urban poor increased from 14.3% in 1985 to 26% in 2002: -
The Barisan has failed in its policies. There is no reason why any person would want to be a beggar if he can have the dignity to obtain gainful employment. We know our people are capable and willing to work hard. Our people have the intelligence to learn the required skills. Our people are capable of completing a job. However, we have not been given the opportunity to acquire the necessary education. Not all of us who are qualified are given the opportunity to enter into the university. Not all of us are given the opportunity to obtain the employment commensurate with our capabilities. Not all of us have been given the opportunity to bid and be awarded the contracts and jobs that would have been given to us in a level playing field.
The Barisan is responsible for this failure and the MCA is a party to this and must bear responsibility. The MCA tells us that they work with UMNO behind closed doors. We do not know what the MCA is doing behind the closed doors. We know what a husband and wife does behind closed doors during their honeymoon. But if a wife does not agree with the husband, the marriage will not even last for 5 years and certainly not for 50 years.
The MCA should therefore examine their policies if they are sincere in helping the people. At least the Gerakan is brave enough to talk about reviewing this. It has been said that if you give a person a fish, he lives for a day. But if you teach him to be a fisherman, he lives to the end of his days. What the Barisan and MCA is doing in giving subsidies is only allowing the people to live for a day and force them to be dependent on the subsidies for their survival. There is nothing to a proud about turning our people into beggars.
The opposition is therefore entitled to scold the MCA and the Barisan since they failed to carry out their jobs. The people are also entitled to scold them. If they still fail after the scolding, then, they deserved to be sacked.
William Leong Jee Keen
Parti Keadilan Rakyat
19th October 2007