Posts Tagged ‘Poverty’

RRI Indian workers for generations!

November 29th, 2011
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Just imagine this, generation after generation working away, and now left with nothing. All this while, quarters provided, got salary, and enjoyed at relaxing environment, but their future is very bleak without ownership of house nor any suitable skills for uplifting their economic status. Can you imagine what is the fate of their kids?  Did the previous generations ever thought of getting out of the vicious cycle or were they ever given a chance to do so?

Can imagine similar scenario happening for estate workers.

Hopefully in this case, the government is able to provide the families a piece of land or other award for their hard work and loyalty.


THE 86-year-old Rubber Research Institute of Malaya (RRIM) in Sungai Buloh, Selangor, will soon make way for a new integrated development in the Klang Valley and the 300 workers out of the 660 are worried that they would be forced to relocate to other research stations in various states.

The 1,348ha site, owned by the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) since 1925, is expected to be become a commercial, residential and transport hub under a joint venture between the Federal Government and the Employees Provident Fund.

The workers will have to be relocated to other research stations in Sungai Sari in Kedah, Bukit Kuantan in Pahang and Kota Tinggi in Johor.

Solid foundation: One of the oldest houses still standing within the grounds of RRIM. The 70-year-old house is now abandoned after the family moved out.

Some 243ha would be retained for RRIM facilities, which will include the headquarters, Centre for Excellence that houses latest research and development amenities, a business cluster to encourage foreign investments, the Royal Commodity College trains workers for the industry and a museum.

The site is one of the federal assets to be redeveloped under the Greater Kuala Lumpur Strategic Development Project, an initiative under the 10th Malaysia Plan to revitalise the city.

A. Vellaiamah, 70, worked as a rubber tapper at RRIM for 41 years.

The mother of four is suffering from an enlarged thyroid and doctors had advised her not to go ahead with the surgery as there might be complications.

Three of her children have died of cancer.

Her father Ayamuthu was the only chief security guard at RRIM in the 1940s. Vellaiamah’s husband, Kandhasamy, was a chief driver here who died 26 years ago.

Her son, Gunasegaran, who represents the family’s fourth generation, now works at RRIM.

“My paternal grandmother worked as a rubber tapper, too. I have spent most of my life in this estate. I am sad with the impending development as that would mean we would be displaced to other states and my grandchildren won’t have the opportunity to work at RRIM.

“This place holds sentimental values for me because the Indian community are the ones who made RRIM what it is today. I consider my family to be one of the pioneers of RRIM,” she said.

For Vellaiamah, she will mostly miss working in the serene environment as well as the freedom for her three grandchildren to play at the football field and spend time with other kids at the RRIM quarters.

Rubber estate takes up 939ha while the remaining area houses nurseries, laboratories, midstream and downstream pilot plant factories and staff quarters, two schools (a Tamil and Islamic religious school), a mosque, a Hindu temple and recreational facilities.

All in the family: Janaky (back row, left) and her grandchildren S.Sangeetha (from left) S. Thanabalan, S. Tines, S. Thineswary and S. Arnin who are living at the RRIM quarters.

R. Janaky, 58, who works as a general worker, will be retiring next year but wants to extend her employment until the age of 60.

“I don’t know where they will post us to next. I have worked at RRIM for 31 years. My husband. a supervisor, has also just retired. My son works as a general worker at RRIM, so you can see the tradition we maintain in the family because we love working here.

“It is close to impossible to find a beautiful green lung like this in Klang Valley in this day and age. We would like to remain here and I hope the management will listen to our plight,” said the mother of five and grandmother to nine.

P. Chinna has a year before he retires from RRIM as a field recorder.

The 58-year-old is a third generation from his family working at the estate.

“My grandfather and father both worked at the RRIM experiment station in Sungai Buloh.

“I was born within the grounds of RRIM,” he said.

The father of three brought up his children on the estate.

“There are a lot of good memories and we have built precious relationships with the people here.

“I am just worried that couples who both work at RRIM will be relocated to different states which could disrupt their family union.

“The management should at least consider retaining about 80ha to house the workers. The relocation move could prove stressful to a lot of us,” said Ramasamy.


PLRK offers courses for underprivileged women

November 29th, 2011
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Good initiative to help the underprivileged women to learn new skills and improve their livelihood.


THE first day of every life-changing event is a significant part of our lives, and so was the first day at work for Jayamary Balakrishnan, a 28-year-old orphan, as a wedding make-up artist.

Jayamary Balakrishnan spent the first 18 years of her life in an orphanage and never stepped into a school because her guardians only found her birth certificate much later in life.

Useful skill: PLRK also conducts sewing classes and can take up to 15 students at a time.

“I never had my first day in school experience and my childhood was mostly spent in the home. I was longing for an opportunity to learn something and be independant.

“Being a woman, I naturally began to have a liking for grooming. Ever since I stepped out of the home to live on my own, I have been looking to enrol in make-up and grooming courses but the fees were very expensive and I could not afford it.

“My friend suggested I apply to Pusat Latihan Rakyat Kasih (PLRK) and the rest is history,” she said.

Jayamary is one of eight underprivileged women, the second batch of students, to successfully graduate from the six-month bridal make-up course conducted at PLRK located in Taman Desaria, Petaling Jaya by Persatuan Kebajikan Kasih (PKK).

“My first customer was a bride in Malacca on Oct 28. She was my first customer and I was nervous at first, but once I started, concentration kicked in and my nervousness went away.

We did it: Jayamary (right) with fellow graduates (from left) Anusiadevi Jaimadi, Valarmathii Ketapa, Alagi Alagesu, Sagunthala Kumari Krishnan, Anthoniamma Aruldass and Manimegalai Paneerselvaom holding their certificates.

“It gives me great satisfaction to have the privilege to make a woman look ravishingly beautiful on the most important day of her life.

“My customer was happy and I was more than happy to pocket a handsome RM2,200 which is a big sum of money for me. What more can I ask for and I am doing what I love,” she said, adding that she would continue to pursue the advance bridal make-up course at the training centre.

The bridal make-up course is conducted by trainer Thevagi Segar.

“During the bridal make-up course, I teach the basic five steps in preparing an Indian bride for her big day which includes threading, facial, saree tying, hair styles and make-up. Once the essentials are mastered, the students have the option to further enhance their skill by learning henna drawing and others.

“These skills need practice to become perfect and therefore every class is conducted on a practical basis. I believe with perseverance, these women will pull through,” she said.

PKK president Peter A Dass said their members believe in the importance of education as a foundation to sustain oneself in the current economic situation.

“We started a girls’ home five years ago and found that many women especially single mothers find it difficult to make ends meet. Learning additional skills will help them to earn extra income thus improving their living standards.

“We are also currently conducting sewing classes followed by advance classes to supplement, and hope to kick off the basic computer classes early next year. We charge a nominal fee of not more than RM100 per month to instill a sense of commitment,” he said.

Guest of honour, Senator S. Ramakrishnan presented the certificates to the students.

“Learning skills is a very importance aspect in determining one’s sosio-ecomonic status.

“There are about four million legal and illegal unskilled foreigh workers, so the unskilled Malaysian will be competing with this group.

“A developed country should have 40% of skilled workers but Malaysia only has 28%, which shows that we have a long way to go.

“Bridal make-up is a ready market, so go out and make yourselves become one of the best groomers,” he said

For details on PLRK, contact 03-91307934/ 03-91306166.



getting RM50 only as welfare aid

November 26th, 2011
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The article didn’t mention if the adult children are staying with her, so that may be one of the reasons why she’s getting just RM50 as aid.  But being one of the 30 cases, then there may be some other issues here. The Welfare Dept’s guideline may also need to be updated, if there’s any provision for RM50. Nowadays even RM300 also not enough for the urban poor.

She lost her factory job and her husband died several years ago. Without a steady income, her health has deteriorated and her two adult children cannot even afford to fend for themselves.

Single mother Savunthary Muniandy, 49, is crying for help.

“My 22-year-old daughter is a single mother who has a baby to feed. My son, 26, has been wayward for a long time now.

“I can’t even afford to pay my medical bills for diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol problems. I owe my relatives over RM3,000 for my bills,” she said yesterday.

Savunthary is one of 30 single mothers from Cempaka Flats in Gombak, who sought help from the Umno Youth Community Complaints Bureau after they claimed their appeals for financial support from the Welfare Department had fallen on deaf ears.

She receives RM50 a month from the department which can hardly pay for her flat rental of RM450.

Bureau chairman Datuk Muhd Khairun Aseh said the single mothers received between RM30 and RM150 when they should be getting a minimum of RM300 a month, depending on their situation.

“How are they going to survive?” Muhd Khairun asked, adding that he had prepared a memorandum to be submitted to department officials on Monday for them to act on their complaints.


3 months no reply on welfare application?

November 20th, 2011
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Wow! 3 months is a long time, especially the low income and poor folks who are in need of such help. Wonder why no reply. If not qualified or application incomplete, can just reply saying so.

Bagan Dalam state assemblyman A. Thanasekharan has threatened to stage a demonstration if the Social Welfare Department continues to delay processing application for aid from Seberang Perai Utara.

He was speaking to reporters after visiting the Social Welfare Department’s office in Kepala Batas on Tuesday.

Thanasekharan had gone to find out the status of 30 applicants who had submitted a request for aid about three months ago and had not received any reply.

“Most of the applicants had complained that they are usually told that the officer is not around, had gone out or no reply from the head office


Budget 2012

October 7th, 2011
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You might want to have a peek at Budget 2011 last year to get an idea of this year’s budget. This year around, PM Najib spoke for an extra 19 minutes. The budget speech can be found here.

The budget costs RM232.8 billion, up 9.4%, with the operating expenditure at RM181.6 billion or 78%, (up 11.5%) and development expenditure at RM51.2 billion or 22% (up 4.1%).  RM20.5 billion would be for servicing debt.

You can compare with Pakatan Rakyat’s shadow budget here.

Last year, Malaysia’s FDI growth was the strongest in Asia and in the first six months of this year have reached RM21.2 billion. Economic growth for 2012 is expected to be between 5 and 6 percent, despite a global economic slowdown. In 2012, private investment is forecast to climb 15.9%, supported by foreign and domestic investment. GDP in the first 6 months of 2011 was 4.4%, driven by strong domestic consumption. In 2012, the service sector is expected to grow 6.5%, the construction sector 7% and GDP is forecast to be between 5 and 6%.

RM29.8 billion allocated for investment in infrastructure, industrial and rural development. RM13.6bil allocated for the social sector, including education and training, welfare, housing and community development.

Some of the main points:


  • Government to further liberalise 17 services sub-sectors, including healthcare and logistics, and in places enabling 100% foreign equity. This will allow 100 per cent foreign ownership of  the 17 service subsectors.
  • RM18 billion of the RM20 billion PPP Facilitation Fund will be used for high-impact projects, with RM2 billion for bumiputera entrepreneurs.
  • KL International Financial District –  income tax break 100% for 10 years, duty stamp exemption; development allowances and capital allowances; income tax break 50% for property developers in KLIFD
  • RM978 million allocated to accelerate the development in five regional corridors: Coastal Highway JB-Nusa Jaya; Taiping Heritage tourism project; Besut agropolitan project; Lahad Datu palm oil cluster project; Water supply in Samalaju
  • Felda to be listed in Bursa, along with “windfall” for settlers.
  • To extend tax exemption on issuance and trading on foreign currency sukuk by three years
  • To cut tax for three years on expenses incurred in issuance of sukuk wakala starting 2012.
  • To implement RM6 billion private sector-financed special stimulus package for infrastructure works.
  • To implement RM98.4 billion rolling plan until 2013 for high-impact development projects
  • To grant tax benefits to investors who use Malaysian Treasury Management Centre to accelerate financial markets development. These include income tax exemption of 70 per cent for five years, withholding tax exemption on interest payments on borrowing and stamp duty exemption on loan and service agreements.
  • subsidies will be maintained at same amount (RM33.2 billion).
  • franchise fees borne by local franchisees will be allowed tax deduction in efforts to develop the local franchise industry and Malaysian brands.
  • Pulau Langkawi will be redeveloped with the Langkawi Five Year Tourism Development Master Plan, to be launched with an allocation of RM420 million to be used to restructure the Langkawi Development Authority, set up a park rangers unit, upgrade museums, beaches and small businesses as well as provide a more efficient transportation system.
  • Hotel operators in Peninsular Malaysia investing in new four and five-star hotels will be given pioneer status, with 70 per cent income tax exemption or 60 per cent investment tax allowance for five years.


  • RM1 billion allocation through a special fund for the construction, improvement and maintenance of schools in need of upgrades. RM500 million would be allocated to national schools while Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools, mubaligh schools, government religious schools and Mara junior science colleges will receive RM100 million each. (as usual, too little for vernacular schools).
  • development allocation amounting to RM1.9 billion would be spent on all types of school consisting of national schools, national-type Chinese and Tamil schools, mission schools and government-assisted religious schools
  • Abolishment of school fees for primary and secondary education. Currently, students in primary and secondary schools are still required to pay RM24.50 and RM33.50, respectively, for co-curriculum, internal test papers, Malaysian Schools Sports Council fees and insurance premium. These payments will be abolished from 2012
  • One-off RM100 for each school pupil aged six to 16
  • One-off RM200 cash voucher for books  for all school pupils and higher learning institution students
  • Private schools to get 70% income tax break, 100% tax allowance for up to five years, double deduction for overseas promotional expenses to attract more foreign students and import duty and sales tax exemptions on all educational equipment.

Civil Service

  • Civil service salary hikes of between seven and 13 per cent (for those who accept the new scheme, SBPA).
  • Increase in the rate of automatic annual increments in civil service salaries of between RM80 and RM320 (not salary revision as many report/understand).
  • retirement age raised from 58 to 60.
  • teachers to be given promotion on time-base promotion.
  • Tuition fee assistance for civil servants who want to study part-time – for 5,000 places for masters and 500 places for doctorate degrees. Total allocation – RM120 million


  • One-off cash payment of RM3,000 for each family of ex-military and police personnel who served the country during a decades-long communist insurgency (62,000 families)
  • RM200 million for upgrade to modern policing and RM442 million to upgrade housing quarters, stations and training.
  • RM500 million under the Army Care programme for upgrade and maintain army camps and quarters.
  • RM50 million for ex-servicemen retraining.


  • Increase of 2% annually for pensioners starting from 2013.
  • bonus RM500
  • 50% discount on LRT and monorail
  • no outpatient fee for government hospitals/clinic including dental clinics (doesn’t make much difference because its the medicine that costs a lot)


  • full exemption of import tax and excise duty for hybrid and electric cars to be extended until end of 2013.
  • 100% excise duty and sales tax exemption for locally-made taxis.
  • No excise duty or sales tax for transfer ownership.
  • No road tax for individually-owned budget taxis.
  • 2% subsidy on loan for new locally-made taxi.
  • RM3,000 assistance for disposal of old taxies exceeding seven years but less than 10 years. If 10 years old and above, RM1,000 is given. (wonder what’s the focus on taxis is all about. I thought we have too many taxi licenses?)


  • Real Property Gains Tax increased from 5% t0 10% if property sold within 2 years, 5% if sold between 2 and 5 years, and no tax if sold after 5 years.
  • Ceiling for house prices under a government deposit guarantee scheme for first-time house buyers to be raised to RM400,000 from RM200,000 (My First House Scheme)
  • RM443 million fund to build 15,000 units of housing for lower- to middle-income earners


  • 1% increase in employer’s EPF contribution (12% increase to 13%). (Most likely to cause unhappiness among employers).


  • One-off cash assistance of RM500 to all households with a monthly income of RM3,000 and below, costing RM1.8 billion, to benefit 3.4 million households (54% of households). Head family must register with LHDN.

Orang Asli

  • RM90 million for basic needs, including treated water and income generation, RM20 million for the community affected by Cameron Highlands landslide.
Rural Development
  • RM1.1 billlion for rural electricity supply, especially Sabah and Sarawak.
  • RM5 billion will be given to develop rural infrastructure, including RM1.8 billion to the Rural Road Programme and Village-Link Road Project.
  • RM2.1 billion allocated to expand clean water to rural 220,000 homes.
  • The government will expand the programme to supply clean water to the rural community in Sabah by RM50 million.
  • In Felda settlements, RM400 million upgrade of water supply system in Pahang, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu.
  • RM150 million for rural public transportation, via SME bank for bus companies in low interest loans of 4% interest
Poverty/Low-income issue/Welfare
  • Build 85 government-subsidised discount grocery stores nationwide (Kedai 1Malaysia)
  • RM20 subsidy for electricity bill to be continued (only if your bill is RM20 or less).
  • RM1.2 billion for welfare programme: for senior citizens RM300 per month, poor children RM100-450 a month, disable RM150-300 per month.
  • To open 30 Agro Bazaar Rakyat for agriculture products.
  • Extend Menu Rakyat 1Malaysia to 3,000 operators, where breakfast provided at RM2, lunch at RM4.


  • To establish RM2.6 billion worth of funds for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
  • RM100 million SME Revitalisation Fund, for loans of up to RM1 million made available for entrepreneurs to be made available from January 2012
Social Justice
  • contributions to missionary schools and houses of worship will become tax exempt (hopefully its not an excuse to reduce allocation. As it is, there’s no mention of any allocation in the budget for houses of worship).
  • RM15 billion operation expenditure and RM1.8 billion for development expenditure. Upgrade of 81 rural clinics and 50 new 1Malaysia clinics.
  • Hospital Kuala Lumpur, the oldest in Malaysia, will be upgraded to be the country’s premier hospital. RM50 million to construct outpatient block for Hospital Kuala Lumpur. This will come from the RM300 million allocation to upgrade the hospital with new equipment


  • Aim to build 150 futsal courts and 30 football fields with artificial turfs. RM50 million allocated for football fields, RM15 million for futsal courts (We get rid of open areas and then scramble to build courts/fields again).

This time around, the impact for those in the middle income (household > RM5000) and those who are single can’t be found. There’s no mention of income tax reduction, nor any sin tax. There are plenty of benefits, but my worry is that its value is quite small until can’t make any immediate crucial impact for citizens. Perhaps the housing schemes and education benefits would be the ones which are impactful enough. Good thing that the subsidies are maintained for the coming year.

The budget targets the relevant groups: police/military, Felda, teachers, pensioners, retirees, rural areas, East Malaysia, civil servants.