Articles, Opinions & Views: There’s something about Mary and MPs RM25k monthly salary - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy

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No Atheists
In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God

Which must always come to pass

He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?

Have you always turned the other cheek?

To My Church have you been true?"

"No, Lord, I guess I ain't

Because those of us who carry guns

Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around

Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here,

Lord, It needn't be so grand,

I never expected or had too much,

But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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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 “religion”. 

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.

PSM’s 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.

“Families 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.

Any 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.

Look 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.

Now, some MPs actually use their salaries to fund the social work they do in their communities. I divide these folks into three categories. 

The 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. 

Their other revenue streams make their lives comfortable and may be reflective of their voter base, but are estranged from the realities of larger diverse communities.

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 between.

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.

A 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. 

The pandemic has made it worse. For these people and many others, they have no idea why the government is stalling in the budget talks.

Indeed, 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.

Liew Chin Tong

The 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.

Jeyakumar 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 this.

“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.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 2:24 PM  
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