What money do you want us to spend?

JULY 22 — The last week or so, it felt as though the government had spent a lot of time stating the obvious.

The poverty line has been revised (at last) and on another note, numbers showed that so many children were unable to access learning resources remotely.

We also have hundreds, perhaps thousands of university students left in a bind as they need to return to campus a lot sooner than anticipated.

With so many Malaysians losing their jobs or getting pay cuts, it feels inappropriate for the prime minister to call on Malaysians to spend.

Spend with what, or whose money?

A lot more Malaysians are more focused on cutting back or saving for a rainy day. In my case, I'm just waiting a few more months so I can switch to a cheaper phone contract.

All well and good that the government is trying to offer more aid to small and medium businesses but they seem to forget that all that aid means little if customers have no way of spending.

We don't all have cushy GLC salaries, prime minister.

It is not encouraging either that the current finance minister seems more concerned about the welfare of banks, as opposed to the welfare of their customers.

If a blanket extension of the moratorium is not possible, then at least insist that the banks make it easy to apply for an extension.

When it was made easy to opt-in or opt-out of the moratorium, the option to extend it should also be as easy.

The hilarity in the messaging, “spend for Malaysia” is evident as our richer politicians are not great examples of “buying Malaysian.” It's publicly known how many foreign, expensive vehicles a former deputy prime minister possessed.

Going into Parliament must make for interesting times for luxury watch enthusiasts due to the sheer number of five-figure watches on display.

With Google's image search it's easy to know the makes of their watches and it is infuriating sometimes to see our politicians talk a good game about how Malaysians need to be more resourceful, work multiple jobs if they need to, become entrepreneurs if they can't find work while these old men casually wear half my annual salary on their wrists.

The point here is that it is poor form to have campaigns to “spend for Malaysia” when not enough is being done to give Malaysians money to spend in the first place.

What the current pandemic has demonstrated for many of us, is how ill-prepared we are for sudden emergencies.

Think of the poor families who did not have tablets or smartphones for their children to get their lessons.

Single parent households who would need to struggle with no schools to keep their children occupied while they tried to make a living, if they still had one. 

Households where they thought one income was enough but found having just one breadwinner is risky when you barely make enough of a living as it is.

Who do I think should really “spend for Malaysia”? Our government, obviously.

Perhaps fewer GLC appointments and more aid for the unemployed, with better welfare aid distribution given that our current system exposed its inadequacy during the movement control order (MCO)?

We'll open our wallets if the government will too, prime minister.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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