Consumerist: Govt Agencies Told To Feel The Pulse Of Urban Poverty! ( A flashback Series)

Dato Jacob George

Thursday, 8 Apr 1999 02:05:57 +0800


As a consumer advocate, I cannot but fully support and endorse Deputy Premier Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s recent observations that a concerted effort must be made to address the growing problem of urban poverty irrespective of racial origin.

The deputy premier must be also commended for speaking “plainly from the heart” where he rightly pointed out that effective strategies and master-plans must be implemented to address the problem, from a truly “Malaysian” perspective!

His views on the eradication of a “subsidy mentality” and “racial polarization” must also be applauded.

The comments coming only weeks after the recent clashes in several “poverty stricken” areas in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor should now result in a concerted implementation immediately.

The dilapidated, harsh living conditions of the various marginalized communities clearly show that some of our elected representatives, local politicos and local government agencies may have neglected the very demograph, they were set up to address!

We should not forget that apart from Kampung Medan and its surrounding areas, there are other similar areas nationwide with their own wooden houses with rusty corrugated zinc roofs, small and illegal workshops, garbage-strewn narrow streets and dusty environment with their fair share of gangsters, drug addiction, juvenile delinquency, fights, social problems and even incests!

It is moments like this when we have to truly ask: why valuable financial resources made available by the government is not used to address to these community woes.

From time to time, we are exposed to the countless wastage of public funds on public relations activities, construction projects, cosmetic changers, the implementation of mega-projects costing millions of ringgit, which does not serve any purpose, except the “egos of certain local politicos or local government managements!”

And when community-based groups, whistle-blowers and individuals address this wastage, they are “attacked as personal non grata, self appointed do-gooders or non-residents”.

Would it not be better to instead divert valuable funding and attention to areas the likes of “Kampung Medan”?

The ‘master plan’ initiated to address the various ‘socio-economic imbalances and inequalities’, lack of adequate housing, education, opportunities for credit for business, development must be well planned and implemented to overcome racial polarization.

If implemented religiously – this holistic solution will prevent the repeat of the recent violent episodes and the possibility of these issues being exploited by a minority, whose sole preoccupation seems to be the “overthrow of a legally elected government”!

The time has come for all of us to “turun padang” and based on the ground conditions and realities to initiate various socio-economic programs that will address the larger community needs!

One final point. In view of the recent findings of the presence of foreigners in such settlements, perhaps, the time is right to conduct a Federal Census Inspection (FCI) by a government appointed task force with the assistance of community based groups to ascertain the number of such foreign and illegal colonies in the country.

And in view of the involvement of such groups in recent clashes and crime, action must be taken to immediately deport such groups in the interest of national security.