‘Paloi’ to squabble over salary donation

The world perishes not from bandits and fires, but from hatred, hostility, and all these petty squabbles. – Anton Chekhov, Russian playwright

I hope that Malaysian politicians from both sides, particularly those who have been squabbling over the salary donation issue in recent days, will take note of this story.

I have a reason for relating it here.

This is Kassim’s story. It’s a pretty familiar one during such challenging times. This is what many have to go through now. It’s real and it’s sad.

“My name is Kassim. I will be 41 by October, in four months’ time. I’m married to a lovely woman and we are blessed with five children, all of them still in school.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has turned my life, and that of my family’s, upside down. I lost my job last year during the first MCO.

“For almost a decade, my job as a building supervisor in a construction company was good. I had a stable income and able to provide for my family reasonably well. We didn’t have much but we were not left wanting.

“My wife gave up her clerical job after the second baby was born to look after the kids. It was a necessary and sensible decision.  

“Then came March 2020, the pandemic and the lockdown. I have endured 16 very trying months without a full-time job. I have used up all my savings and at my wit’s end with MCO 3.0 in force now.

“Over the past months, I managed to do some odd jobs. With the lockdown again, I cannot work. Today, the situation is critical for me and my family. By next week, I may have to beg or borrow money just to feed my wife and kids.”

Kassim’s story is real and it’s a clear illustration of the sad and difficult situation faced by many breadwinners today.

There are easily hundreds of thousands in the same boat as Kassim.

This is only my conservative figure. There could be millions in the country out of a population of more than 30 million.

Dear politicians, pay special attention to this and please keep it in mind.

Many like Kassim are not at all interested in politics at these very challenging times. They do not even care about the elections.

What they urgently need now during this pandemic is an income to pay bills and provide food for the family, besides keeping themselves and loved ones safe from the virus.

If politicians think that they are able to score brownie points by running their opponents down, they are dead wrong.

Kassim and millions like him will likely think that the politicians are paloi (stupid) for pulling such stunts, hoping for support and sympathy, during a pandemic. They do not want to know anything relating to politics now.

Only selfish politicians whose sole concern is their political career and future are interested in politics now. People are fighting for their lives and gasping for breath and politicians are fighting among themselves; for themselves!

The suffering rakyat need help; they need money; they need food. They do not need politics and listen to this: The people just loathe politicians indulging in their favourite pastime now – politicking.

When some politicians offered to donate part of their salaries to help the nation navigate the Covid-19 pandemic, political opponents quickly blasted them calling the offer a political gimmick.

There is no need for me to name names. The politicians squabbling in the media over the salary donation know who they are.

I think such quarrels, the tit-for-tat media circus over the donation of salaries and allowances are just childish and pathetic. Whatever their reasons might be, it does not hold for me in this case.

Hello, can we stop being paloi? I know all of you can do better than that. It’s the ego and pride that stick out like a sore thumb.

Kassim and the suffering Malaysians are not interested to know where the assistance came from, from which politician or party.

What matters to him and others is that there are people who are caring enough to reach out to them.  Kassim would be hoping that those earning bigger salaries would give more.

I would add: Folks, if you have something extra, be extra generous. This is the time when life’s sufferings and difficulties are glaring for all to see. Nothing is hidden.    

Someone just wrote that with Covid-19 getting out of control, life is more complicated than during the Japanese occupation. I agree.

And one last thing, dear politicians. When you go out distributing food baskets to the needy, please leave your camera at home. Accord Kassim and those in his shoes some respect and dignity.

Many others are also doing acts of charity on the quiet, without publicity. Be as humble as Joe public.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.