APRIL 20 — Social media is an interesting, though somewhat limited, means of taking the temperature on certain issues.

Few things have been as depressing as searching for mentions of KWSP on Twitter and Facebook.

Sure, there are people hoping the money will come in time for Hari Raya shopping but there are more people waiting for dental surgery, parents with empty larders wanting to feed their kids and those who are still looking for work.

Many are venting their anger and frustration at Employee Provident Fund (EPF) workers who really do not deserve all that abuse.

A lot of them don't understand that the EPF wasn't meant to be as easily liquid as banks are; it's a fund, which means getting cash and disbursing payouts takes time.

I'm sure EPF workers groaned when the finance minister announced that payouts would start earlier than scheduled.

Maybank even faced an outage as people clogged systems trying to check if their EPF payouts were in.

It makes me both sad and angry. No one should be taking from their retirement savings except as a last resort.

Yet we see people online fawning over various ministers and politicians, as well as some personalities who have claimed credit for spearheading the call to allow yet another EPF withdrawal.

The Employees’ Provident Fund  logo is seen at its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur March 2, 2022. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
The Employees’ Provident Fund logo is seen at its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur March 2, 2022. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

I don't blame people for drawing on their savings; I blame the government for not providing other alternatives.

The magical thinking continues. It's this weird perception that we can just rewind time to when Malaysian low-income earners were a convenient demographic to ignore until elections came around and that everything including tourism will go back to where it was.

I stayed in Kuala Lumpur overnight and I see too much has changed since the last time I was there.

Shuttered stores, only a handful of what seemed to be foreign tourists, and the KL Sentral arrival area a sad shadow of itself with stalls gone, counters long disappeared and what used to be throngs of suitcases being wheeled around is instead a more uncommon sight. 

No matter how much the tourism industry (and its minister) wishes, the foreign tourists aren't going to come back anytime soon.

We had time to reskill, retrain, reinvigorate the economy but instead it's all about putting people in a holding pattern until the "good old days" come back again.

The world has changed and so must we. Right now, most importantly, we need to figure out a plan where prosperity is for all and not just for those with the right bloodlines and connections. 

What scares me the most is that despite everything, most Malaysians are still very far  from actual breaking points and by the time that happens, it might be too late to stall our quickening decline.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.