Empty pocket vs Shared Prosperity Vision: A reality check!

Empty pocket vs Shared Prosperity Vision: A reality check!

Sitting at the editorial desk on a Monday morning and stumbling on a heart wrenching story, I write this with a heavy heart and a serious concern for the downtrodden.

While Malaysia is battling an economic slowdown, this humble twitter update by Kechara Soup Kitchen revealed that the country is losing its battle against poverty.

This twitter is not merely some random update that we come across but this explains the plight of our young graduates.

Kechara Soup Kitchen revealed the story of a common man Faizal came to Kuala Lumpur to look for a job but ended up in the streets.

Unable to fend for himself, he sleeps on the streets. He could not even charge his phone to call back home.

When he did get the chance to charge his phone, he saw multiple missed calls and messages. It turns out that his mother had passed away and his family was frantically trying to get him.

As he was penniless and destitute, Faizal was distraught and was at a loss on what to do. However, a fellow homeless man got to know of his plight and urged him to approach Kechara Soup Kitchen for help.

Long story short, Kechara Soup Kitchen bought him a bus ticket so that he can go home to pay his last respects to him mother.

The bitter truth is that thousands of Faizal are still out there, not knowing where to seek help. What mechanism are there in place for people like Faizal? He was lucky that he was helped by good Samaritans from Kechara Soup Kitchen.

This tweet from Kechara underlines the battle against poverty is far from over. More than one billion people across the globe still struggle daily to secure adequate food and shelter and fulfill their basic needs.

It is easy to say that “life is about choices” — but the reality is, it is not!

It is easy to think that a homeless man became what is due to ‘choice’. And it is easy to blame that those who are impoverished made poor life decisions.

But the reason for these problems are far beyond ‘choices’. The society and the administration play a part in causing the rut.

To say that “life is about choices” when talking about poverty is a convenient way of blaming the victim. The fact is, in many countries including Malaysia, we have a severe case of inequitable wealth distribution.

In other words, the rich gets richer, and the poor gets poorer.

Just look around us, while elites get everything due to the special privileges and their connections, the others, despite being competent and well-educated, get washed out into the abyss of unknown.

Meanwhile, our beloved saviour, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad called the poor as unproductive people.

He also told us peasants not to be envious of the rich as the latter pay a lot of taxes to develop the rich.

Nice one, our beloved Messiah of Pakatan Harapan. While our dear leaders mocks the poor, he blows tonnes of money for an unwanted third car project, allows Lynas Corp 12-year tax exemption and paying millions to get more official cars for ministers and their deputies.

Since we are praising the rich, will Mahathir disclose how much taxes the rich are paying, especially his hardworking children and grandchildren?

So, please do spare me your Vision 2020 and Shared Prosperity Vision slogans. Instead of all these political campaign, just resolve Faizal’s plight.

And trust me, there are a lot of Faizal’s out there coming from various races and religion.

One of the key to poverty alleviation is through financial inclusion, but it cannot be achieved without an appropriate policy and result-oriented partnership between the government, industry, civil society and financial institutions.

We live in an age of promise and opportunity, where technological advances, successful development experience and political will can be summoned to eliminate poverty – and in particular to end extreme poverty. Today, we can end poverty and free future generations from its devastating, tenacious grip yet it is a shame that all this seems like a far fetched dream.

We need to galvanise our resources, ingenuity and political will to reverse plight of the people who fall under the category of hardcore poor. These are the hardest people to reach with public goods and services, and the most difficult to integrate into economic, political and social life.

If you are one of those who care for humanity, Kechara Soup Kitchen is calling for volunteers. They need help to rescue food surplus for the underprivileged community.

Kindly contact them at 010-3333260 if you are interested to become their food rescue hero!

Hema Subramaniam is Editor in Chief at The Leaders

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