New Year resolutions for the nation

The PSM would like to submit six New Year resolutions for 2022. We would like the federal government to seriously consider the following –

1. RM 10,000 grant to every family that had to be evacuated in the floods that occurred last month. We understand from the papers that there are around 300,000 families in this category. Their losses will be in the tens of thousands of ringgit – furniture, clothes, electrical appliances ad vehicles. Allowing them to withdraw from their EPF will not be sufficient as many have depleted their EPF to cover expenses during the MCOs, and many did not have much EPF savings in the first place. RM 10,000 for 300,000 families works out to RM 3 billion for the nation. It will help them cover the most crucial expenditure needed to recover from the floods. The nation can afford this.

2. A “no-fault” scheme to compensate all Malaysians who suffered permanent physical impairment within a 4-week period of taking the Covid vaccine. It is difficult to ascribe a particular stroke, heart attack, myocarditis or nerve palsy to the vaccine with any certainty as these conditions do occur in the non-vaccinated population as well. But the incidence of these adverse events seems to be slightly increased post vaccination. As such, it would be an expression of our solidarity to fellow Malaysians to arrange for some compensation for the small number of people who have suffered lasting disability due to a medical event occurring within 28 days after a vaccine shot. The government could put SOCSO in charge of this scheme as they have the institutional structure to ascertain degree of disability suffered. The government should inject the necessary funds into SOCSO to cover the payouts. (Clarification: the PSM believes that the benefits of the Covid 19 vaccination program far outweighs the small increase in adverse events mentioned.)

3. The government should aim to introduce an Universal Old Age Pension scheme by the end of this year. It is needed because more than 90% of the EPF members aged 54 years have less than RM 50,000 in their EPF accounts – grossly insufficient to sustain them through their retirement years. In addition, about half the population aged 50 – 55 years have no EPF savings at all because they are in the informal sector. The PSM has been proposing a monthly pension of RM300 for every person above 65 years of age who is not receiving government or SOCSO pension. This pension scheme will require about RM 8 billion a year – no small sum, but it would enable the retired to live with more dignity. It is urgently needed especially since the Covid-induced recession has resulted in the withdrawal of more than RM 100 billion in EPF savings.

4.The government should invite groups and individuals for discussions on how the “Shared Prosperity” goal could be attained. Many groups have submitted proposals and feedback to the government – the PSM for example submitted a memorandum on the 12th Malaysia plan highlighting 5 issues pertaining to income distribution, the “social wage”, affordable housing, healthcare financing and climate change mitigation. Sadly, though we clearly indicated that we would like to meet to discuss these issues, we have yet to be contacted. The government must engage in a dialogue with the rest of society. Interesting new ideas will emerge when there is an open discussion.

5. Just 3 days ago we were saddened to hear that a group of 120 Rohingya refugees adrift off the coast of Bireuen, Sumatra were being blocked from landing on Indonesian soil. Luckily the Indonesian authorities have since relented and allowed the boat to come to the shore. ASEAN has to do more for the situation in Myanmar. We would like to reiterate the suggestions that we have made previously –

a/ The creation of an ASEAN fund to which ASEAN nations contribute based on their per capita income. This fund should be used for the handling refugees and for humanitarian assistance to Myanmar itself.

b/ Changing our immigration regulations to allow the refugees to work legally so that they will not be exploited by unscrupulous employers. (We need to bear in mind that if undocumented workers and refugees can be exploited, it impacts negatively on the Malaysian B20 who vie for the same types of jobs.)

The PSM also urges the Malaysian government to work through ASEAN and the UN to reduce the violence in Myanmar. At present it is the rivalry among the big powers – China, India and the Western powers – that has inhibited them from taking more resolute action as they fear that Myanmar will move closer to their “rival” if they did so. ASEAN should attempt to bring China and India into a broad based diplomatic effort to impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar, while at the same time expanding humanitarian aid to that nation. The fighting must be stopped and political solutions to the crisis be explored.

*******

The PSM would also like to propose a new year resolution to the people of Malaysia – lets isolate the politicians, NGOs and individuals who attempt to cause ill-will amongst the ethnic groups in the country. Many of them play the ethnic blame game because it gets them attention and support. But if Malaysian reject them, then they will change their tune. Many of them do not really believe in their propaganda, but they get on that bandwagon because it gets them support. The outpouring of goodwill that we witnessed during the recent floods is clear evidence that the majority of Malaysians are decent people who wish well for their fellow countrymen. Let’s leverage this good will to build a better and more harmonious nation. We all have a role to play in making our society better, greener and more just.

Best Wishes for 2022.

Jeyakumar Devaraj
Chairperson
Parti Sosialis Malaysia

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