On the 22nd of February 2014, RM4.6 billion was deposited into the bank accounts of tons of Malaysians in the form of BR1M 2014.
Each registered Malaysian head of household earning less than RM3,000 a month would receive RM700, while those earning between RM3,000-RM4,000 would receive RM450. Registered single Malaysians earning less than RM2,000 a month would receive RM300 according to the scheme.
According to PM Dato’ Sri Najib Razak, this is the government’s way “to change the policy from bulk subsidy to targeted subsidy in stages and shift the savings to the people through BR1M. BR1M is an example of the targeted subsidy”.
If you are a MyKad holder and if you qualify as a Malaysian, good on you. But what about those who don’t?
A website, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia, aiming to gather a group of like-minded Malaysians who do not desire for political power but to see justice and equality for all people living under this nation, shared a series of photographs of the less fortunate living in our country, who do not bear MyKads.
These photos do not only make us realize how lucky we are, but these photos also act as a huge wakeup call for us Malaysians to step up, not take things for granted, and reach out to those who are living in less than habitable conditions in the community.
In the slums of Air Panas near Setapak live a boy and his parents. His name is Zahka and the six-year-old boy who hasn’t been to school, only knows a little bit of Malay and speaks mostly Tamil with his family and friends. If things stay the same, we know he wouldn’t be heading to school any time soon.
Graphic design graduate Chia Hong was touched by Zahka’s story and he captured this in a photo essay which was exhibited at the Art and Design Graduation Show at New Era College.
Zahka was adopted after his mother found him abandoned near their squatters. Despite being poor, she took him in and nursed him. After looking at their living conditions and realising that they did not have any birth documentation or MyKad, Chia Hong decided to create awareness through his photographs.
Zahka spends his day scavenging the dumpsite near their house and his family lives off the money they can get by hawking off anything that is of value at the recycling market. It was indeed an eye-opening experience for Chia Hong as he visited the area a couple times just to really familiarise with what these people have been going through.
While we have properly treated water from piped sources, these people live off from the Klang River. Besides their dilapidated zinc-roofed wooden houses, the entire neighbourhood gets filled with beggars and odd-job workers and they sleep in alleyways, and outside the shacks.
So here’s Zahka, a loving boy raised in a family without any identity whatsoever. He won’t be going to class, he won’t be getting out of poverty, and BR1M surely won’t be coming his way either.
But, is he any less of a human being than all of us? Less of a Malaysian? That’s something all of us should think about.