Thursday, October 20, 2011




By Datuk Yong Teck Lee

The Chief Minister’s admission that "hard core poor still high due to e-kasih system" shows that the government eradication programmes at both state and Federal levels have failed because the leaders are not focused on poverty eradication programmes and the deserving target groups.

The "e-kasih programme" was supposed to eradicate poverty but now the Chief Minister is blaming the "e-kasih system " for the hard core poor figures (of 4,657). This confusion casts the BN administration in a bad light. One wonders what has happened to the Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia with a fund of RM 236 million and its Azam Niaga, Azam Khidmat, Azam Tani and Azam Kerja. There is also the KWAMP (Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pelajar Miskin) and so many confusing programmes that civil servants have to grabble with.

Earlier this year, federal minister Datuk Sharizat announced that there are 4,255 e-kasih cases in Sabah out of the national total of 54,180 cases. This means that the e-kasih poor cases have gone up by 400 cases this year. Obviously, this is embarrassing for the Chief Minister who wants to show his glowing report card to Putrajaya in order to boost his lobbying to remain as Chief Minister after the impending general elections.

At the end of last year, the Chief Minister had declared Tawau as "zero poverty" which nobody believed because the poverty line is defined as a family income at RM540.00 per month and hard core poor at RM270.00. All you have to do is to drive around Tawau to witness the visible poverty. Natives who are being evicted from their customary lands and traditional villages in forest reserves are being driven to poverty. Last December, the World Bank had declared Sabah as the poorest state in Malaysia. Prices of basic goods, transport and rents have continued to rise while incomes remain stagnant. The 2012 national budget contains nothing to spur economic activity. Instead, the Prime Minister raised the EPF contribution by 1% to 24% that neither employee nor employer can use.

Poverty cannot be eradicated in air-conditioned offices using computers. To attack the poverty problems involves the deployment of the entire government machinery, quality education to break the poverty cycle, empowerment of young people through skills training, increased productivity in the rural areas by ownership of land and government departments to facilitate instead of obstructing economic growth.
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