WE need to move away from ethnic-based mentality to a need-based concept when formulating any policies, including the annual budget.
“I am making this call not only to our Government but everyone, including the opposition bloc and the civil society.
“We need to start looking at things from a different perspective and I have been advocating for this since my Aliran days,” veteran political activist Chandra Muzaffar told FocusM.
Earlier today, civil society movement Aliran urged lawmakers to reject Budget 2021 for marginalising the minority groups, who played a major role in nation building.
Its veteran columnist P Ramakrishnan alleged that the budget even provides little for the poor and those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Malays are allocated RM11.1bil for ‘bumiputera development’, compared to RM100 mil for the Indian community’s socio-economic development.
“There are about two million Indians in the country. The RM100 mil allocation for the Indian community works out to RM50 per person per year, or RM4 per month or a miserable 14 sen per day!
“The estimated 7.4 million Chinese are treated no better. They are provided RM177 mil. A simple calculation reveals the miserly sum the Chinese are entitled to under the Budget: RM24 per person per year; RM2 per month or 7 sen per day!” Ramakrishnan was reported saying.
Popular blog, the Sarawak Report echoed Ramakrishnan’s sentiments, adding the Orang Asli community will also receive very little from Budget 2021 and urged MPs to vote down Budget 2021.
Bridge wealth gap
Chandra, also a veteran social activist, cautioned everyone that the problem persisting in the nation now is no longer racial, but is the divide between the haves and the have-nots.
“If we keep using the racial tone in our economic development, we will only create a situation where the wealthy can usurp whatever that is meant for those who are not well-off,” he said.
For starters, Chandra said the Government should provide more assistance to those affected by the pandemic regardless of their racial background.
“If they are fishermen, look at them as fishermen. If they are small holders of a plantation, look at them as such.
“Even for the Chinese, instead of looking at the New Villages, just look at rural development as a whole. In that way, everyone gets what they deserve.
“Even for Felda, we must understand there are also non-Malay settlers. This habit of looking at things from a racial lens has burdened our economy and national development for far too long,” he said.
However, Chandra credited the Perikatan Nasional government for trying its level best to look into things in a more holistic manner.
“I can see that Budget 2021 is quite focused on helping all those who are affected by the pandemic despite being a predominantly Malay-led coalition.
“But the effort must be made long-term and consistent. Let us just look at poverty and deprivation as it is and resolve them accordingly,” he said. – Nov 22, 2020.