Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Is The Smart Phone Subsidy Smart - Of Course It Is!

The proposal of a 200 ringgit subsidy for the purchase of a smart phone costing less than 500 ringgit to those who qualify, to be implemented soon, got me thinking.
pic by ordinary malaysian

Are smart phones really smart? I don't know.

Having a smart phone is like inviting everyone into your home and giving them carte-blanche to occupy it howsoever they like, including rearranging, removing and doing anything they like to whatever they find therein, including to the other rightful occupants of the house and keeping track and records of all the conversations and movements of everyone.

But I am more interested to think that the subsidy move is not quite a harebrained ploy to skim off some more of our hard earned money in the name of helping the long suffering rakyat.

I don't see how spending 300 million ringgit to help 1.5 million kids between 21-30 years of age, who all probably own more expensive smart phones already, to buy another one, is helping to make the nation any smarter.

Of course, it will eventually help to keep the cronies and the telcos happy. Because, who will eventually benefit from the money to be reaped, both from the sales and the increased telco subscriptions?

You and I? Of course not!

This is clasic Najib nambikainomics - draining the dwindling national coffers to gain a spike in the popularity stakes. Lu tolong gua, gua tolong lu. You scratch my back and I scratch your's.

We had the BRIM 500 ringgit assistance to householders earning 3000 ringgit per month, 200 ringgit book voucher assistance to students and the 600 ringgit tyre help to taximen one-off schemes and whatnot.

How have all these really helped the people in a meaningful and sustainable sense? Whatever money they might have received is all gone now, I am sure.

The poor and the needy, and these increasingly include the middle class who are getting less and less middle and more and more lower, remain as poor and as needy, with the ever rising costs of living.

I still remember that back in 2008, during Abdullah's tenure, everybody was happy when it was announced that vehicle owners would receive a rebate on their road tax.

There were long queues at the post offices for weeks, and everybody who was there to get the cash rebate was smiling.

But how did it really help, when the 100 or 200 ringgit rebate that most of the motorists received, did not even last a 100 minutes, let alone a 100 days, I dare say?

The whole exercise had cost the nation some six billion ringgit! And it seemed that the cost of administering the exercise itself came to several tens of million ringgit that must have benefited some lucky party!

Now, that tens of million ringgit were real money while the rakyat got the bad end of the stick.

If the government were really interested to help the people, it would have been better that the six billion were invested to help those really in need in a real meaningful way.

Even if the money wasn't invested but used, say, to build low cost houses costing 50 thousand ringgit each, the government could have built 120,000 such houses to be given away to 120,000 really poor, needy and homeless families! Now, at least, that would have been a real meaningful and lasting help to those who received it.

And I would have cheered.

As it is, while the nation's coffers are getting thin, the Najib administration seems to be more interested in scrapping the bottom for short term gains at the nation's expense.  

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