Taking responsibility

03 Apr 2019 / 10:41 H.

BY JEFF YONG

BREAD and butter – or for Malaysians, rice and sambal – issues are always on our lips these days. Especially on how we can improve our standard of living, or cope with rising costs.

I’ve been inundated with such questions from people concerned with these pressing issues. And the biggest question is whose responsibility it is to create a better life for all.

I believe the responsibility should fall on those who claim to champion our well-being, while at the same time cajole us to remember to mark an ‘X’ next to their names on election day!

I hope those who’ve coasted to victory won’t conveniently forget their promises. And I pray they’ll swing into action soon.

We need more investments so that more jobs can be created, so that we’ve more money to pay for daily necessities, to ensure a non-leaking roof over our heads, and have better means of transport to arrive at our workplace, or go Cuti-Cuti Malaysia without hassle.

It’s also about how to turn Malaysia into the economic tiger that our country once was.

Some time back, some people claimed that we’ve moved up the economic ladder. They said that minus “the island nation somewhere in the South”, we are better off compared to the rest in the region. Are we really?

We’ve been told that we’re no longer a country bent on labour-intensive industries. We’re going upmarket and doing more hi-tech work.

But is this really happening in a big way? Do we see more high-paying jobs for Malaysians?

I do see an influx of foreign workers doing a variety of jobs. A lot of Nepalis are doing guard work in our country. The ones guarding my housing area are a no-nonsense lot.

At my other housing area, the Pakistani guards have been equally hardworking to ensure that would-be criminals are kept at bay –despite some tight-fisted residents who fail to see the need to pay for safety.

I like that my residents’ association hoisted a banner which screams: “Don’t let your neighbour pay for your security. You have a responsibility, too!”

A lot of Indonesians have also crossed our borders to work as maids, plantation workers, construction workers, and odd-jobbers.

Filipinos have carved a niche at the top end for domestic help, and of late, an increasing number of Thai and Chinese nationals are also making our feet flex better through foot massages.

Bangladeshis have swamped the construction, retailing, food and transportation industries. So have Myanmars.

I also see many Indian nationals showing off their skills in hair-dressing salons, banana leaf rice restaurants, and in the IT industry.

Recently, my air-conditioner got all heated up, instead of staying cool during the recent heatwave.

I avoided calling my usual local electrician because his pricing is always predictable – starting at RM168 for a very simple job, before going up to RM268, RM368, RM468, and so forth. I’m sure you’ve gotten my drift.

I switched to an internet-based which engages companies that have passed their technical efficiency and trustworthiness tests.

The company I selected was cheaper than my usual Mr Fix-It, at RM140 for a normal service. Chemicals are charged separately.

I opted for the RM210 package because I knew I was at fault for having neglected the air-conditioner for some time, as this was an area where my dear departed wife used to hold sway.

On the day of the service, three hardworking persons showed up. They did everything in about an hour without fuss or spillage.

I asked where they were from. “Rawalpindi and Lahore,” came the reply!

With so many hardworking foreigners in our country, I’m just wondering what Malaysians are really doing to earn their keep, besides being busy with WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter? You tell me.

Jeff Yong, after making his mark in the twisty maze of mainstream journalism, has finally decided to enjoy what he does best –observing the unusual and recounting the gleeful. He can be contacted at lifestyle.borak@gmail.com.

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