Friday, September 26, 2014

Majority of our 'rakyat' are poor?

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.


The Declining Day (Al-'Asr)
1. By the declining day,
2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss,
3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort 
one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.

A day before writing this article, I received the booklet 'Laporan Interim' from Perbadanan Nasional Berhad (PNB) and Amanah Saham Nasional Berhad (ASNB) 'bagi tempoh enam bulan berakhir 30 Jun 2014' (for the first six months ending 30 June 2014). 

I flipped the pages of the report by the 'Pengurus Sekim Amanah Saham Nasional (ASN)' (Manager of the Amanah Saham Nasional Scheme), my eyes caught a section about the profile of shareholders under 'maklumat tabung' (information on the fund). 

It stated that; "As at 30 June 2014, a total number of 1,254, 328 individuals had invested in the ASN scheme."

On page 2, there was a chart which showed that from the total 1,254, 328 investors; 1, 228,488 of them as having 5,000 and less units. 

It comprises 98 percent of the total investors. If the price of shares was at 80 sen a unit, then those more than 1.2 million investors are having about RM4,000 or less in their accounts! 

Those who fall under this category subscribed a total of only 234, 240,183 units out of the overall 1,671,720,040 units of shares. 

I kept on thinking; 1,228, 488 out of 1, 254,328 investors having RM4,000 and less in their accounts; that meant 98 percent of them had only a meagre amout of money in ASN. 

Perhaps a large number of them owned less than 100 shares (valued at about RM80). Imagine only two percent of the shareholders having more than 5,000 shares. 

The number of shareholders with shares ranging from 5,001 to 10,000 were 7,965 and those in the 10,001 to 50,000 category were 11,609 persons. Investors who held 50,001 to 500,000 was 6,030 persons and those who had 500,001 and more were 236. 

Well, those with more than 5,000 shares comprised of not more than 30,000 investors; a very, very small number indeed! Notice that 98 percent or 1,228,488 out of 1,254,328 had 5,000 and less shares.

Based on the profile of ASN investors, pardon me if I am wrong in my assumption that the majority of our 'rakyat' are poor! I dared to make this claim because there are also other scenarios and developments that support it.

One example is regarding Prime Minister Najib Razak administration's cash aid programme under the 'Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia' or 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M).

Under the one-off cash payment (RM500 for the first year) it was found out that only about 20 percent of household in the whole country with an income of more that RM3,000 a month.Through BR1M and BR1M 3.0, over 7 million households (received BR1M) totalling RM4.6 billion.

Through BR1M (the first one) RM2.6 bilion were chanelled to benefit 5.2 million households or 79.5 percent of the total of households in the country. If 79.5 percent of the overall households had income less than RM3,000 a month, then it means that only 20.5 percent of households had income of more than RM3,000 per month.

Nowadays household income are normally contributed by both husband and wife; this means that if a family has an income of RM3,000 a month; each of them has an income of about RM1,500 per month. If this method of calculation is adopted, it means that 80 percent of the rakyat has an income of less than RM1,500 a month.

With the majority of the rakyat has an income of RM1,500 or less that that for a month, were they in the category of those with high income as desired by some of our leaders? The rakyat with an income of RM1,500 and less a month was not far from the line of poverty whats more if they live in cities and metropolitan ares.

In my opinion, after realizing that the majority of our rakyat were poor or from the middle class strata (about 80 percent of the population), then drastic actions should be taken and implemented to rectify them in short and long terms but surely not by giving them cash handouts as done by our leaders.

If we give the people say, RM500 under the one-off cash payment, that it is like giving fish to them; they would finish the food fast but if give them fishing apparatus, hopefully they would be able to 'land fish' on a regular basis for the rest of their lives.

Those in power too must take effort and work hard to make sure that the prices of daily necessary items such as rice, sugar, wheat, milk, cooking oil, vegetables, fish, chicken and beef are within the reach of the majority of the rakyat. 

In my opinion being able to sustain the prices of necessary items are more beneficial than giving the poor rakyat RM500 once in a while as when the situation requires those in power to do such as winning their hearts in elections.

The rakyat too should be provided with a 'sound' and efficient public transportation system especially in the rural areas. If the rakyat in metropolitan areas such as Kuala Lumpur are provided with reliable modern public transportation such as the light rail transit (LRT) and monorail, those living in rural areas are left at the mercy of private public transport operators.

It was a well known fact that many bus operators who claimed they were not making any profit year after year, failed to give good service to the rakyat in rural areas. Buses were not punctual; some of them had to wait hours after hours at the roadside for their buses.

If the government could spend billion and billion of ringgits to upgrade public transport system in the city such as expanding the MRT line of coverage; then why not spend a reasonable sum 'to cheer up' the rakyat in the 'kampung' and other rural areas. Perhaps, this way is better than making them happy for a day by giving them a one-off cash handouts of RM500 once in a year! 

Even former Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad criticized BR1M, describing it a costly move for a government facing huge debts and deficits.

"At RM500 per person, for seven million people it would cost the government RM3.5 billion. Increase that to RM1,200 and the cost would be RM8.4 billion.

"That is a lot of money. Yet there are still a lot of very poor people in the country. Do we really need BR1M? Even without BR1M there was good support by the people," said Mahathir. 

Under the 2014 Budget, households with a monthly income of RM3,000 and below are qualified to receive BR1M of RM650 each, an additional RM150 from 2013. For households with a monthly income of between RM3,001 and RM4,000, the financial aid is RM450.

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