There’s something about Mary and MPs RM25k monthly salary - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, November 05, 2020
Malaysiakini : “If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.” - American poet Dorothy Parker
COMMENT | One of my detractors, and they are many, sent me this article about a single mother (Mary) selling nasi lemak
from a trolley. A poverty porn piece of “one of your people”, he wrote
in his text. He did not use “your people” in a racial sense, what he
meant was the B20 group which I write about and live among. My
detractor is a middle-aged “progressive” - or what passes for
progressive in this country - who I met years ago in a Bersih rally and
still keep in touch with. Needless to say, he does not support the
current “back door” government.
Malaysiakini recently did a piece on MPs and their grubby little fingers in the cookie jar. What
really bothered me about this piece was the amount of largess the state
provides political operatives who tell us that they are fighting for
the people, or in the case of the race-based parties, “race” and
Obviously, these folks are getting their money’s worth when they agitate on behalf of voting blocs. Political
operatives such as Umno Supreme Council member Tajuddin Abdul Rahman
may joke about allocations for his constituency, but the fact remains
that the majority of the political class in this country think that the
rakyat are the punchline to a joke.
While I know a few decent
political operatives who attempt to shine a spotlight on the
marginalised or disenfranchised of this country, the majority of
political operatives essentially are concerned with the M40 crowd, most
often at the expense of those who are struggling to get by.
Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, in his piece about a budget with new ideas, wrote
this: “A large proportion of B20 families work in precarious jobs as
daily paid contract workers - washing dishes in restaurants, loading and
unloading goods in factories and shops, in small farms, etc.
"Another portion of B20 families relies on micro-businesses for their income.”
What he suggested was more government aid in the form of cash payments.
whose current income is less than RM1,000 per month should be provided
monthly cash transfers of RM500 to RM1,000 - a guaranteed minimum income
- so that their basic needs can be met,” Jeyakumar wrote.
decent person should feel offended when they see the suggestion of a
thousand ringgit a month to these families and see the reported
RM25,000-plus monthly salary of MPs.
Honestly, just use the story of Mary as a guide.
at the amount of effort, work and indignities she has to go through to
make ends meet on a daily basis. And, can you honestly argue, that fat
cat MPs arguing about whether a government is legitimate or not (either
side) and holding the budget to ransom (again both sides) are of any use
to people living in the margins?
And that margin is getting bigger because of the pandemic.
some MPs actually use their salaries to fund the social work they do in
their communities. I divide these folks into three categories.
first who have no problem using their MP salaries because they have
“other” revenue streams, more often than not, connected to the swamp of
corruption that is Putrajaya.
The second, those who have other
“legitimate” revenue streams and believe that using their MP salary is
part and parcel of building a base, especially if one is cut off from
the federal machinery for whatever political reason.
revenue streams make their lives comfortable and may be reflective of
their voter base, but are estranged from the realities of larger diverse
And the third type, those who do not have any form
of revenue streams and if they do, it is not as much as the salary they
are getting in their MP gig, but they sincerely believe that their
salaries are meant to go back to the rakyat. These folks are far and few
I asked my motley group of friends what they thought an
MP was earning and the highest number I got was five thousand ringgit
which was the group's idea of a “high paying” job. All of them were
shocked that our elected reps were getting RM25,000-plus a month.
young man, fresh from performing his prayers, asked what they used
their money for. Another chimed in wondering what it must feel like to
have so much money in the bank. Whenever she goes to withdraw money from
the ATM, she wonders if she has enough money or will the machine tell
her that she does not have enough money to make a withdrawal.
Now, for some, this is true “poverty porn” but for me, this is what people are struggling within their daily lives.
pandemic has made it worse. For these people and many others, they have
no idea why the government is stalling in the budget talks.
most of them rely on some form of government aid. Some folks have
access to religious and bumiputera funds, while others have to rely on
other NGOs to help them out.
To them, it is not a question if the
government is legitimate or not, but whether they can make ends meet
for the day and then look forward to doing the same the next day.
DAP’s Liew Chin Tong has been consistent in his advocacy about job
creation and the need for proactive measures to counteract the
contractions that arise because of this pandemic.
accurately points out, in his response to one of Liew's piece, about the
need for government aid to these groups as a modified form of universal
basic income: “While the creation of well-paying alternative jobs is a
valid long-term goal, the primary objective currently should be to
ensure that no family is left without an income sufficient to procure
the essentials - food, shelter, basic utilities and healthcare - during
this recessionary period.
“Other needs may be postponed, but the
above four cannot be, and we have to, as a society, ensure that every
family has the means to get the essentials. We cannot compromise on
“The best way of ensuring that no family is short on food is by implementing a modified universal basic income scheme or
UBI, which would pay RM1,000 monthly to the households listed in the
Bantuan Prihatin Negara (National Caring Assistance) scheme which meet
the eligibility criteria.”
While this piece is not meant to
argue for some form of universal basic income, it does highlight the
fact that improving the lives of people hustling daily for rent and food
money is in the hands of MPs who earn RM25,000-plus a month, which our
taxes pay for.