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  • Malaysians should try to increase their incomes and savings in order to weather the storm. It is simply impossible for the government to take care of everyone. Photo courtesy: Bernama

Sin Chew Daily

Both the government and the rakyat are responsible for the country's sliding competitiveness and sluggish economy.

What Prime Minister Tun Mahathir said recently has offered a glimpse into the root cause of the problem.

He said the Sino-American trade war has already taken a toll on Malaysia's economy, causing the ringgit exchange rate to fall and we consequently need to boost our production and cut imports to strengthen the national economy, which will in turn stabilize the ringgit.

He also highlighted the fact that many Malaysians are reluctant to work, and are not even keen to take up jobs at air-conditioned offices.

Malaysians are not born lazy. So what has caused this phenomenon today?

During his first tenure as the country's prime minister as well as more recently, Tun Mahathir has been hitting out at those who are over-dependent on government assistance.

But contradictorily, he is not resolved enough to remove the crutches provided to these people, and has continued to hand out generous subsidies and assistance, not to mention opening the door to public universities wider.

The finance ministry recently proposed to fork out RM6 billion to provide salary subsidies ranging from RM700 to RM1,000 to help some half a million youths at work.

While the prime minster has urged Malaysians not to look to the government to supplement their incomes, he is now mulling subsides to increase their incomes. Isn't this self-contradictory?

The unusually high youth unemployment at 13.2% is largely believed to be a consequence of lack of marketable skills among our young people.

To solve this problem, we should try to boost their employability. How are we going to make them stand on their own feet if subsidy becomes the solution?

The prime minister has also said that PTPTN is owed RM39 billion, more of less the debts owed by 1MDB. He even criticized loan defaulters for not feeling ashamed of themselves.

That said, if the PH government shows no resolution to go after the defaulters, how are we going to build a responsible society where borrowers conscientiously settle their loans owed to the government?

Tun Mahathir launched the Look East policy in the 80s, but for more than three decades, we have not picked up the work attitude of the Japanese because we have never enforced a strict reward and punishment system nor instilled an excellent work culture in Malaysian workers.

Mahathir hit out at Najib for distributing BR1M to the voters on the eve if GE14. However, the new Pakatan Harapan government continued to hand out Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH).

With assistance expected to stream in from the national coffers, no one will take the initiative to grow their own vegetables or catch their own fish. Boosting food production and cutting imports to stabilize the national economy? Easier said than done.

Subsidies will only make the beneficiaries unwilling to work hard and increasingly greedy.

The Malaysian Bumiputra Contractors Association has urged the government to set aside at least 20% quota for bumi contractors in the ECRL project.

The government will eventually have to fork out additional cost to fix the problems of incompetent local contractors awarded the contracts through quota.

Tun Mahathir is well aware of the weaknesses of the people, but for the sake of voter support, he remains powerless in changing the status quo. And if we allow this to go on for another few decades, our children and grandchildren will be made to bear the multiplied debts.

The people themselves are not spared of their responsibility. Why can't we be more independent and work harder so that the government will not have to bear the additional financial burden for helping the people?

Tun Mahathir has very high regards for the rural Thais who have learned to be more independent by growing their own food.

Compared to other regional countries, we should indeed feel ashamed of ourselves. Many would rather choose to be out of work than taking up menial jobs. As a result, the country is highly dependent on migrant workers who collectively remit RM30 billion a year out of the country.

Wrong attitudes and values instilled by some parents are also to be blamed for our indolent work culture. For instance a senior parliamentarian has said that stealing is only a crime when a person is caught red-handed.

When the economy is not doing so well, it is the responsibility of our young people to try to supplement their incomes. The fact that many university students starve due to poverty shows that many young people do not have the ability to solve their own problems.

A UCSI survey shows that 16.2% of KL residents feel that they are financially worse off during the past 12 months. If we only know how to grumble and not attempt to increase our incomes, we may not be able to withstand the impact of a recession when it strikes.

With the prospect of external environment remaining bleak and the Sino-American trade war dealing a severe blow on the global economy, Malaysians should try to increase their incomes and savings in order to weather the storm. It is simply impossible for the government to take care of everyone.


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