Monday, April 8, 2024

When only a "Safe" Hari Raya wish could be expressed ....

The usual customary greeting for Hari Raya Aidil Fitri is the familiar "Selamat Hari Raya". For the festivity greeting, "Selamat" means happy as in Happy Hari Raya similar to Happy New Year or Happy Deepavali greetings.

"Selamat" also means secure or safe. The Ramadan celebration was, to put it mildly, not as its usual celebration with food prices and pasar Ramadan offerings prices skyrocketed. Operators of Bazaar Ramadan and Jln Tunku Abdul Rahman pasar malam felt the pinch. 

The rising food prices was a result of disrupted supply chain during the Covid and worsened by the Russia-Ukraine war in Europe. It has not gotten any better with the Gaza genocide followed by another supply chain disruption at the Red Sea. Now drought is adding to the problem or in the new term being used these days, climate change problem.  

With inflation and employment problems beseiging the people, NST report today made it too heart breaking to wish Happy Hari Raya. The economic downturn, in which the mainstream media still trying to prop up confidence, began to hit the common Malaysians.

To those still able to plow through the traffic jam on the roads and highways all over the country to be with their loved ones, the appropriate wish for them is to have a "Safe" Hari Raya. 

Penniless Hari Raya

NST report below:  

#NSTViral: Malaysians share reasons for not going back during Hari Raya in viral post

By New Straits Times - April 8, 2024 @ 9:00am

KUALA LUMPUR: A social media post became a platform for Malaysians to share their heartrending stories, drawing over 12,000 comments, just days ahead of the nation's Hari Raya celebrations.

The soul-baring began with a post by @cikguding on TikTok.

"Not buying Hari Raya clothes is not too bad. Turns out many will not go back to their hometowns". He then called on TikTok users to share their own reasons for not making the journey back to their hometowns.

His post drew over 12,000 comments from people, sharing their reasons for not celebrating their Aidilfitri with their loved ones.

Some are unable to return due to broken-down cars, others lost their jobs, and others even felt embarrassed because they could not afford new clothes.

User @Ayie said he is unable to bring his family back to his hometown as his car had broken down and he is facing financial constraints.

"I cannot go back because my car broke down. I can't buy Hari Raya clothes for my wife and children. The money that I have is only enough to pay for our house, electricity, water bills, and food," he said.

User @noralfian shared the same, saying he had just lost his job and was without income."

I can't go back for the celebration because, firstly, I lost my job; secondly, there's no preparation whatsoever. I can't even afford to pay zakat because I have no money. I have absolutely no money," he said.

Another user, @zuraieda471 said she didn't have money to pay for fuel, adding that her baby would be uncomfortable travelling by bus.

"I don't have money for fuel. Travelling by bus is not an option because my infant would be uncomfortable sitting in the bus for a long time and would throw a tantrum and make other people uncomfortable. I really miss my mother," she said.

User @cibudin, on the other hand, said this is the most difficult Hari Raya for him, financially.

"This is my 24th Hari Raya ever since I got married. This Hari Raya is the worst for me in terms of economy. I have six children and all I have is a motorcycle. I don't even have money to give duit raya," he said.

Single mother @annagibran said she is embarrassed to go back to her hometown as she is unable to buy Hari Raya clothes for her children.

"I am embarrassed because I can't buy Hari Raya clothes for my children and even raya cookies. It's hard for me to even buy rice. #misery of being a single mother," she said.

Their heartfelt confessions prompted an outpour of sympathy from other commenters.

"The comments in here are so sad, your challenges are great," said TikTok user

"I read each and every comment. It made me sad. I hope their affairs are made easier," said Wanie.

So when will things get better?

Malaysians expect something miraculous from the reformasi-led government, but the direction the global economy is heading for since the end of the pandemic have not been encouraging. 

Except for few exceptional countries, in which Malaysia is unfortunately not, countries globally are facing economic downturn, inflation, shortages and even structural problems. 

Some country manage to keep the recession at bay, but Japan and UK announced they are already in it. EU facing structural problem arising from the energy cost spuralling following Russian gas cut.     

The public expect government to spend money to elevate the problem of rising prices, housing problems, employment, food, education, healthcare, infrastructure, public amenities, and the list goes on. 

But where is the money coming from and with the current economic condition, how can the problems get resolved?

Forget the reformasi chanting. That's all politics and its pointless to rewind back the old political campaign videos as reminder. Its already 1 year 5 months, long overdue to get down to the brass tack of governing. 

To start with, the government is saddled with a debt of RM1.5 trillion, the last number quoted or perhaps, its already RM1.7 trillion with all numbers going negative. 

Malaysia have been operating on a budget deficit for the past 25 years and the debt level reached full capacity to finance Muhyiddin's debt driven Covid 19 measures but with stimulus package laden with emergency justified corruption.   

The government can keep issuing bonds for EPF to subscribe, but how much longer when funds are moving out of the bonds and stock market.

Revenue is heard to be on the decline. Tax collection is less than last year. Save the number for official announcement, it is partly technical reason and most obviously, economic downturn hit tax payers. 

Custom collection can only hope to recover or at best, stop the decline with the arrest of 23 custom officers for corruption at KLIA in which the leak is estimated to be RM2 billion over 2 years. There are many more entry points still porous. The new one stop border agency was only passed in Parliament and yet to be operationalise.

China's economic stimulus still not working.

Our main trading partner is not out of the problem of property and municipal bad debts of its banking sector. Fearing a repeat of Japan.

All South East Asian countries are bracing for a slow economy except for Indonesia and Vietnam, while Phillipines just received a shot of massive US funding.  

For first time in 27 years, current account surplus drastically reduced a result of merchandise export vs import narrowing. On the capital side, Malaysia always have issue with Balance of Payment arising from high invisible trade i.e. services.  

All will worsen if ringgit weaken further as a result of further delay by the US to bring interest rate lower. Not sure whether they will since Down Jones turned bullish and its status as safe haven in the midst of geoglobal tensions and conflicts is benefitting them.       

Growth forecast is revised downward. Though statistically not correct and have been adjusted, cynics claimed at the rate it is going, growth is only coming from inflation.

No choice but need to undertake reform. 

But Anwar cannot do so effectively under the current economic situation. 

Rafizi's seemed more concerned with fiscal reform to introduce more taxes, cut subsides for major food items and utilities, withdrew fuel subsidy, impose SST for services, and soon to come, GST-like e-invoicing.            

With the legacy of low salary and wages, these measures taken to save government fiscal situation will dent the wallet of workers, B40 and even the M40. 

Economist claim salary and wage rose by 8% but its not distributed well thus causing hardship to the people. Rafizi's progressive wage will only be tested in June. God knows when will it translate into a better salary and wage that could generate more disposable income and sufficient savings for the old age. 

As it is, the minimum wage regime introduced by Saravanan only benefited plantation worker, but the law to impose working hours is a cost constraint to other industries. It amplified the wage increase and drove up cost of doing business up without corresponding increase in productivity. 

Malaysian businesses are closing down because of the wrong structure for the minimum wage. Businesses and factories are moving to Indonesia and Vietnam which are offering lower and better tax incentive and more responsive to investors needs. 

Politicians and policy makers need to be concerned and conscious.

They need to be sensitive of the impact of policies on the people. Its not workable formula to expect free market correction will follow theory. The rakyat welfare should be first and foremost in the mind. 

Otherwise, what is the point of holding public office?

Looking at all the happenings on the economic front, it is as though there is no easier option available. The public will have to endure the rollouts out of policies that lack innovation, people sensitivity, and reality.

Malaysians are not used to lead a difficult life and rise up to the challenges life is offering. If BN fall due to rising prices, another government change could happen again and politics will never be stable.  

The last Emperor is not the cause of the fall of a civilisation. Usually problems piled up and gotten unbearable to handle by them. The root cause is often than not is deep rooted at the peak of civilisation and the succeeding Emperors failed to realise or handle it.     

In the case of Malaysia, some leaders overstayed to foil every attempt by the successors to address the problems. That same characters still behind every rabble rousers doing his bidding and serving his ultimate purpose. 

The people will naturally be angry and unable to realise why things happen in such a manner that caused misery to their life. Our heart pour out for them.

SELAMAT HARI RAYA whatever way it means. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

cool write-up bro, as always.