Sunday, January 06, 2008

Our government needs You!

When I read this, I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry! According to the article, "parents who have already paid non-mandatory fees to school should treat the payment as a kind of contribution to the institution instead of seeking a refund." To get a better perspective, let's look at the story from a couple of months ago.

In early November, our Education Minister announced that the government was, "prepared to forego RM160mil next year (RM130mil to provide free textbooks and RM30mil for abolishing school fees) as the quality of education cannot be compromised." Presumably, this great selfless act was as a result of the government's great love for the rakyat. In the next breath, "Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the ministry would source for alternative revenue."

Okay, that should have set off a whole bunch of alarm bells. But, we were all too happy with the whole idea of free education that nobody really understood what our humble minister meant, when he said that. Now, things are becoming all too clear, how the whole scheme is supposed to play out. Just like a casino, our government holds all the cards and so, they'll always win.

Parents, nationwide, were treated to a rude shock at the beginning of this school year by an unexpected hike in the cost of education. "Parents ended up paying extra charges on the first day of school although the Government has waived school fees this year. Many parents complained they had to pay up to almost RM200 just for extra charges, which were well over the Education Ministry’s regulated ceiling charges."

As a result of the great generosity of our government, they expected the rakyat to be equally as generous. Therefore, people like this single mum "in Alor Star had to send her four children a day later to school because she had to go around asking for donations to pay more than RM750 charged by the schools." According to her, "donations payable for her two secondary school children came to more than RM150.For her two primary school children she had to fork out a total of RM192.50 while for her two secondary school children, she had to come up with more than RM560."

I don't know whether to laugh at the exceptional scam scheme or to cry at the plight of the poor.

Imagine what you would do, if you were told by the government that income tax is now abolished. But when you go to collect your pay check, you find that 50% of your pay had been deducted as a personal contribution. In your anger, you demand for an explanation, only to be told to see this as a donation, that will be used as alternative funding towards nation building.

From the article, "Hishammuddin said that the ministry had no plans to streamline the payment of these additional fees because there were some parents who actually wished to contribute to the schools. Some of them may be millionaires and can afford to give the sum or in fact, more than what the schools ask for. We don't want to hinder them." I truly wonder how many millionaires send their kids to government schools instead of private ones.

With the rising cost of oil subsidies, falling corporate taxes and giga-project scandals, maybe our government is running out of funds. Therefore, it has to find alternative sources of funding, i.e. personal donations by the rakyat. This is like an IPO, just without any shares issued. Looks like the investors are planning to exit.

We are so screwed.

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