Embracing 2016 – a student’s perspective

:: 2016-01-03T13:45:59+00:00
1
no views
Cartoon by Zunar/Malaysiakini

With financial aid only sufficient to cover their tuition fees and some basic needs, university students often have little option but to cut down on their other needs, writes Dharishaan Vengadesan.

Ushering in New Year used to be a joyous celebration, which invariably invoked a sense of euphoria among tens of thousands of people hoping to begin a fresh chapter in life.

But, apparently, the atmosphere in ushering in 2016, the Year of the mischievous Monkey, did not appear to be as invigorating as before, at least not in the Malaysian context

It is a no-brainer: Malaysia stands to lose RM30bn next year with the slump in global oil prices. Adding salt to injury, oil prices are projected to remain at epic lows in 2016. Subsidies are likely be slashed even further and Budget 2016 may need to be revised.

What a ‘great’ way to start the New Year, right? The conundrum doesn’t end here.

With frustrated citizens venting their anger and ranting about the rising cost of living, a major concern, I intend to highlight the economic turmoil from a student’s perspective.

In a situation where the nation’s revenue has shrunk mainly because of the fall in oil prices, it goes without saying that both the public and private sectors will not be able to sustain their current level of employment.

What then is the fate of fresh graduates? When securing employment is such a grave concern, surviving and leading a debt-free life remains a fantasy for many.

But wait, grim employment prospects are trivial concerns, it would appear, as we are urged to follow in the footsteps of Malaysian leaders and take up #2Jobs to cope with the rising cost of living.

READ MORE:  Forget new cars for top officials; just take the bus!

As for those undergraduates still studying, I was deeply disturbed and disheartened upon reading an article by a university student leader who said that students are going hungry and having only one meal a day as they reel from the higher cost of living.

With financial aid only sufficient to cover their tuition fees and some basic needs, students often have little option but to cut down on their other needs. This phenomenon reminds me of the Matthew effect in sociology, where “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”. The victims are inevitably from the lower and middle-income group.

Klang Valley students have another reason to crack their heads at the dawn of 2016 as LRT and KTMB fares are projected to rise by 100%. Though the government has assured students they will be entitled to discount cards for their travel, effective enforcement remains a major shortcoming in our system of governance.

Even as the shift towards public transport gains momentum steadily, the fare hikes have come as a blow to many, especially students. Once again, what a great way to kick off 2016.

The million-ringgit question here is, will the ever increasing cost of living grind to a halt before the wide chasm between the ‘have-a-lot’ and the ‘have-a-little’ segments brews into a nasty scenario while erroneously exacerbating ethnic relations and fuelling communal anger?

Will Malaysians ever get a taste again of their ringgit stretching as far as it used to? And will things get any better for students?

The coming year should provide some answers to these critical questions.

Dharishaan Vengadesan is an undergraduate at a local university who juggles his time between his chemical engineering course and youth leadership activities. An ardent and keen observer of Malaysian politics, he feels that the views and opinions of the public need to be channelled through the right medium.

Thanks for dropping by! The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

Our voluntary writers work hard to keep these articles free for all to read. But we do need funds to support our struggle for Justice, Freedom and Solidarity. To maintain our editorial independence, we do not carry any advertisements; nor do we accept funding from dubious sources. If everyone reading this was to make a donation, our fundraising target for the year would be achieved within a week. So please consider making a donation to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB Bank account number 8004240948.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
1 Comment
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Malaysian Politics observer
Malaysian Politics observer
2 Jan 2016 4.59pm

2016 wont be a great year for Malaysia. As expected, global oil and gas company has began to retrench their operation, laying off hundreds to thousands workers from top management to operators. Besides, local industries in Malaysia are also trying to cut down losses by shrinking their operations. KIA factory in gurun has layed uff nearly 200 workers in 2015. Many industries to follow.
Hopefully with Ringgit’s strengthening in this early January to kick back our economic performance and maintain smooth running business atmosphere in Malaysia. However in hoping for Ringgit to strengthen, we must also hope that 1MDB crisis to be solved soonest as possible as this is one of the contributing factors to Ringgit weakening over the few months according to Bank Negara’s Gabenor, Tan Sri Zeti Aziz.
Nonetheless, a great article. Wishing you a happy new year and goodluck in final exam.