Educating the less fortunate, equipping them with income earning skills and providing them with equal opportunities empowers the poor to be financially independent and help solve the biggest problem in Malaysia, income disparity. Despite being starved of development funds and policy-making authority in education and infrastructure building, Pakatan Rakyat is showing what ideas it has to develop Malaysia.
by T.K Tan
Equipping society with knowledge
- Penang built 1550 WiFi hotspots for free public usage throughout the state. 750 of the 1st 1550 hotspots are built and maintained free of change by a private company.
- Penang is the first state to be WiFi-enabled for all its residents. Selangor has also started 112 free WiFi sites in 2013 as well.
- Selangor, Penang, Kedah and Kelantan have state-dedicated and alternative free newspapers for their state citizens.
- Two of the newspapers (Selangor Times, Buletin Mutiara) come in 4 languages (BM, English, Chinese and Tamil).
Educating our future
- Selangor’s Estate Workers’ Children Education Fund helps estate workers’ children who study in INPENS college with full sponsorship, 1st semester scholarship in other colleges, tution classes and providing schooling equipment
- The state is building a hostel that can house 500 secondary school students for the estate workers’ children, due for completion in end 2013.
- Students in Penang and Selangor also gets a one-off RM 1000 gift for entering diploma or degree courses with local government recognised higher learning institutes.
- Since 2008, religious, vernacular-type and missionary schools in Penang and Selangor get systematic annual fund allocation, unprecedented for both states.
- In 2012, Penang gave around RM 8.5 million to the schools, Selangor RM 12 million, highest in both state’s history.
Women empowerment and finances
- Selangor has established 3 micro-credit schemes with low or no interest charge to help the poor start their businesses. SKIMSEL and MiMBAR have registered repayment rate of 97 % and 83 % respectively.
- Selangor’s women and mothers get dedicated assistance such as microcredit loans (WALA), nursery assistance funding (TUNAS), child care assistance funding (SiKEMBAR). 19,500 single mothers have benefitted from these initiatives.
- Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) implemented Malaysia’ first gender responsive budget for a local council (LC).
- It is the first LC to implement minimum wage of RM1200 monthly for its cleaning workers. After taking over the cleaning services from private contractors, it managed to create 1000 jobs for locals.
- Penang’s pioneer ‘No Free Plastic Bag’ policy has helped to reduce plastic bag usage by 32 million bags and helped Penang reach 23.8 % waste recycling rate in 2011, highest for Malaysia.
- Penang has utilised its waste to produce wealth with initiatives such as pig waste conversion to biogas and turning rubbish into gas under its Landfill Gas Project in Pulau Burung.
- Under its “Cleaner, Greener Penang” initiative, the public is co-opted to join in cleaning and greening efforts. Penang is recognised internationally for its increased environmental consciousness.
- Penang’s free and state-subsidised public transports initiatives, the CAT (around Georgetown area) and BEST (cross-causeway) bus services has helped many commuters to travel economically to work and shop. -The Rocket