28 April 2018

What are Malaysia’s top three needs that demands our attention?

This article fleshes out the key areas that require the attention of public policy and citizen action.

“More than half the foreign workers are undocumented and routinely worked to the bone. This must stop.”

Rama Ramanathan

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RAMA RAMANATHAN

Civil rights activist

  1. Eliminate modern slavery. In its Annual Report for 2017, Bank Negara said the living wage for someone in Kuala Lumpur is RM2,700 per month for an individual and RM6,500 per month for a couple with two children. It also noted that 27 per cent of Kuala Lumpur households live on less than the living wage. (NST)
  2. Restore dignity to work. It is said that there are over 6 million foreign workers in Malaysia – one in 3 members of the workforce is a foreigner. We know they are mainly occupied in 3D, “dirty, dangerous and demanding” jobs. More than half the foreign workers are undocumented and routinely worked to the bone. This must stop. (NST)
  3. Restore public hospitals. The government owns and profits from private hospitals while it also owns and operates a slowly deteriorating public health system (SAYS) which not only the civil service and retirees, but also many in the private sector, depend upon.

“We must have a free press. Only when there is freedom of information and expression can we truly debate the issues and come to our own informed conclusion and opinion.”

Ivy Josiah

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IVY JOSIAH

Women’s rights activist

  1. Reforms to strengthen democracy. For instance, we must have a free press, only when there is freedom of information and expression can we truly debate the issues and come to our own informed conclusion and opinion. Vital information is not offered to most Malaysians who only view government-controlled media outlets.
  2. Gender equality. Half of Malaysia are women and we are a key resource, if we do not truly empower women through law and policy we are not tapping into this talent pool.
  3. Economic reforms for a sustainable economy. We are going into debt. Most Malaysians are suffering and find it difficult to put food on the table leading to malnourished children. A living wage which Bank Negara Malaysia recently estimated at RM2,700 per month per person for Kuala Lumpur and RM6,500 per month for a household of two parents and two children.
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REV. DR. HERMAN SHASTRI

Council of Churches Malaysia

  1. Move away from racial and religious polarization in politics.
  2. Uphold the Spirit of our founding leaders at Merdeka – which is for a secular democratic and progressive nation.
  3. Open society with free press. Healthy public debates held in a civil way.

“This calls for us to go beyond coexisting to forging true friendship, resisting divisive agendas and broadening common ground.”

Dr. Lee Hwok-Aun

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DR. LEE HWOK-AUN

Development Economist

  1. Integrity, at all levels and sectors, but especially in high public office and public institutions (like the Election Commission), because government must lead by example and authorities must be clean, honest and independent.
  2. Friendship and understanding, especially across ethnic groups and religions. Malaysia has come a long way in ethnic integration, in finding common ground and a shared national identity. But we are still quite a polarized society, and increasingly along religious lines. This calls for us to go beyond coexisting to forging true friendship, resisting divisive agendas and broadening common ground.
  3. Equality – in opportunity, livelihood, economic security. Disparities in income, provision and quality of schooling, and access to basic services like childcare and healthcare are unjust to many families and communities (due more to the system failing than people’s choices) and debilitating on society.
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ANDREW KHOO

Human rights activist

Honesty, integrity, competency.  At all levels.

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REV. FR. CLARENCE DEVADASS

Director of Catholic Research Centre

  1. There is a great need to work towards a united Malaysia… rather than a divided Malaysia along the lines of race and religion;
  2. Equitable distribution of wealth so that people can have a better living;
  3. A revamp of the educational system because education is the way to develop any country and not merely improving the infrastructure.