Are we doing things right?

AS the nation undergoes massive transfusion to cure, cleanse and remedy the ills that have been dogging the country, we, the ordinary citizens, sit suspended at the edge waiting for "what's next". We are being fed intravenously with news about where the New Malaysia is being taken. Before seeding, a whole lot of weeding needs to take place and we are in that phase now.

While we want assurance that the new prime minister and his Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) in tow are leading and steering the country in the right direction while stirring mixed reactions, there have been pockets of discontent from various groups.

Still, the inner voice tells us that with their collective experience, the CEP cannot go wrong. Nevertheless, the turmoil and the disorientation of ordinary citizens are real, maybe transient, if that can be a consolation.

Deletions seem to be the order of the day, in a rush to meet the 100-day deadline of fulfilling the political manifestos, which had its genesis during the do-or-die pre-election campaigns.

While I am impressed with the zeal displayed by the new government, some directives reek of "genocide" being undertaken to avenge the ignoble deeds of the previous regime.

Within days of GE14, we saw a string of announcements that sent shivers down our spines and agreed that when the dust settled, the situation went through a series of self-corrections and this was going to take a long time to come to a halt. The CEP was dishing out statements in torrents while the newly-minted heads of various ministries and agencies started joining the band-wagon of wanting a slice of new-found stardom.

Some statements with regard to policies were made, without considering the impact and repercussions that can leave a long trail of blazing consequences, which I think is a little careless. The geniality of the new leaders was to the advantage of the newsmen and every word uttered made pretty news.

First, we heard that mega projects would be reviewed, which were then said to be off; later it was said to be postponed until finally we were left confused and sometimes even stupefied.

My point is whatever it is the government of the day decides, let it be after thorough deliberation and debate without spasmodic revisions.

The latest is the outcry and consternation from those in the food and beverage business when the human resources minister said all eateries dishing out local food will have to employ local cooks. We can't deny that the locals do not want to get their hands dirty and want cushy jobs with big pay packets.

The flipside of this would be for businesses to raise salaries, which might attract locals, and the remuneration and other working conditions could be streamlined. Right now the working hours are not enforced and foreign workers are working indecently long hours, either by force or compulsion.

In the long run, we may need to work towards reducing dependency on foreign labour, but knee-jerk reactions to sudden realisations will ail ongoing businesses. Again, workable action plans and policies need to be place.

The white-listing of PTPTN loan defaulters is another move that has resulted in a flurry of responses. Many viewed that such a move might be sending the wrong signals to borrowers.

There is simply no excuse for someone who has a job and does not want to make a small commitment to repay the loan. That there has been a drastic drop in the repayment since January this year when the manifesto went on the wall and a further decline since GE14 is a clear indication that the whole concept and philosophy of PTPTN is turning against its good intentions.

By all means, change what needs to be changed, do not make wild alternations with political promises as the basis. We do not want to make the same mistakes of the past.

Small businesses and contractors who depend on projects to run their daily show are reeling in despair. Send the feelers down to the ground, listen to their throbbing pains and make amends fast.

Small businesses have stopped recruitments and the existing workforce is being told to prepared for the worst. Thriving consultancies have started pay-cuts and staff have been told to go on long leave, as cost-cutting measures. With much more coming, this may just be the tip of the iceberg.

Too much time and effort is being channelled into witch-hunting to nab the "thieves" knowing that the billions are never coming back into the mainstream country and economy. The offenders must face the wrath of justice, no doubt, but remember, the country needs to run and the livelihood of people must be sustained.

I am no economist nor a financial expert, but I live and work in the city and I hear the soft laments and cries of the hidden majority.

Comments: letters@thesundaily.com