Have We Learned Nothing?

By Mahathir Mohd Rais

In a utopian world, natural disasters that hits a country wouldn’t cause too much pain to the citizens. In that world, the government will do everything in their power to ensure that their citizens’ well-being is well taken care of. However, we do not live in that utopia because we are governed by incompetent individuals, who cares more about propaganda compared to the lives of the innocents.
The extreme series of floods that hit Malaysia last week has caused physical, mental and emotional damage to those who were affected. The victims have been through enough. They have lost families, food, homes, basic furniture and utensils, electronic devices, personal items, and even vehicles.

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On top of that, we are also stuck in a pandemic that has caused employment rates to decrease dramatically, which means, most victims were already in a lot of trouble before the floods begin.
So, the question is, what did the government do to help these people? The saying goes, “Don’t dwell on the past,” but it’s impossible to not mention how useless the government was. Most of our so-called leaders embarrassingly brought a whole camera crew to ‘help’ the victims, when in reality, it’s just mere propaganda.
Countless comments and anger were shown by the people on social media platforms but the authorities couldn’t care less because they have money. Money is important for power but it is also extremely important for survival.

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The government has started the National Disaster Fund 2021 – RM1000 Flood Relief to help the victims. This initiative was doomed on the day of launch itself due to its’ ridiculous methods of application. It’s insane how tone-deaf the authorities are at how the victims are in of need help urgently. Yet, they still take their sweet time to execute this plan.
However, as a normal human being, living in a developing country like ours, is RM1000 enough to replace the destruction that the victims had to go through? The simple answer is definitely NO.
The citizens of our country along with many NGOs have all joined forces to help those who are in need of food, donations and clean-up activities. Their contributions were useful and the victims will forever be grateful for their love and support.
That being said, the lack of involvement from the government is also very apparent. If they can’t contribute to helping the citizens in terms of those mentioned above, they could at least help more in terms of financial needs.
Nevertheless, the government failed to lend a helping hand again when they did not approve of the EPF (Employees’ Provident Fund) withdrawals, which in all honesty, will be such relief to the victims.
Instead, they are pushing the people who have suffered enough to ask for loans when they could’ve used their OWN EPF contributions.
It is extremely devastating to see how the government is not looking at this issue in a long-term direction. A loan during these unprecedented times is not a good idea. The reason being is that we don’t want the future citizens of Malaysia to focus on paying debts, that will get them blacklisted if they do not pay and hinder their progress towards success in the future.
We can still accept it if the government couldn’t care less about the long-term effects of this issue – what’s unacceptable is how they don’t think about the citizens who have to keep on surviving despite the challenges that lie ahead of them.
It is not only about the economic state of the country but it is also about being able to serve food on these victims’ tables. The responsibility of the government is to ensure their citizens comes first and then focus on rebuilding the country’s economy.
What is a country without its people, and why have a government when they are killing the people?
We have seen the absurd amounts of suicides that hit our country earlier in 2021 when the pandemic caused us to go through financial difficulties. People gave up on their lives and their families.
Have we learned anything from this?
The government should take charge and give everything they can to their citizens to help them rebuild their lives through government initiatives such as moratoriums, EPF withdrawals, subsidies, job opportunities and more financial assistant to sustain a better future for the citizens of our country.
To make a fair comparison to our previous Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the citizens were given a few options to ensure their survival. Initiatives such i-Lestari and i-Sinar were extremely helpful to the people.
The initiatives were able to lessen their burden during the worsened pandemic. Even though there were groups of individuals who opposed the governance of our former Prime Minister, he did manage to help the people in every way possible when we weren’t familiar with the new norm that we have now.
The news that we received from the government yesterday, has broken the hearts of many Malaysians.
The rejection of EPF withdrawals, the little to no physical help, late action that were taken and the lack of financial assistant to lessen the hardship that the citizens are going through, are all major contributors to the rage and sadness that the people are feeling.
Is this the fate of the people of our beautiful nation? Are we truly meant for below than average leadership every time a disaster hits this country?
All these questions will be answered in the next elections, where justice, will find a way to shine through. The people will be heard and they will be led by those who are capable.

About the author: Mahathir Mohd Rais is the Bersatu Segambut Division Chief of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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