People first? Practise what you preach!

Should not the the Prime Minister change his government policies to meet the needs of the rakyat instead of forcing the rakyat to change to meet his policy needs, asks Rani Rasiah in an open letter to the premier.



Dear Prime Minister

Thank you very much for raising the price of sugar by 25 sen in order to cut down obesity and diabetes in the population. It is bound to have a positive impact as given the new retail price, 40 per cent of the population would have no choice but to cut down on that wretched stuff. There cannot be a more ingenious way of achieving good health among an undisciplined population that insists on consuming loads of sugar instead of sticking to wholesome, nutritious food.

Your concern for the health of Malaysians is truly touching and I’m encouraged to bring to your attention a few other social ailments that are a threat to society.

While on the issue of health I should touch on the state of health care in the country. Are you aware of how privatisation of healthcare in the country has rent society into two? The privileged few have access to state of the art health care whilst the bulk of the population is left to make the best of a bleeding public health care system.

Prime Minister, in a civilised country, quality health care should be for all, and not dependent on one’s bank balance. There is thus an urgent need to reverse this hospital privatisation policy even if it means making you unpopular with investors. Will you please address this?

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As well, can you do something about income distribution in the country? I know you are determined to make us a high income nation but I don’t mean that. You know as well as I do that a high GDP and high per capita income does not translate into decent incomes for all families.  You will agree that everyone needs a decent income to acquire the basic needs of life. But paradoxically, your current economic plans and policies are squeezing a good 60 per cent of the people.

What with the hike in costs due to privatisation of everything and the removal of subsidies, prices are going up. Do you know that garlic costs RM10 a kilo? (By the way did you also remove the subsidy for that?) The problem is that you have allowed wages to remain static. How are people expected to cope? Eat less? Go hungry? Change their lifestyles?

Recently you advised the rakyat to change. No details were given but I guess the change expected is to facilitate the implementation of your private investment economic model which dominates the Tenth Malaysia Plan. The rakyat are expected to keep quiet and continue to accept low wages, amendments that will further weaken the labour laws making it easier to dismiss workers and removal of subsidies.

But why should the rakyat change? Why should they accept all these? What’s in it for them? Why must the rakyat always be expected to sacrifice for some remote good that has so far not reached them?

Should not the case be that you change your government policies to meet the needs of the rakyat instead of forcing the rakyat to change to meet your policy needs?

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Prime Minister, we are not asking for too much. We are just asking you to PERFORM NOW what you preach every day, namely putting PEOPLE FIRST!

Rani Rasiah, an Aliran member, is a coordinator of the Oppressed People’s Network (Jerit)

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