Handouts: Losing our dignity and pride

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak announced yet another one-time handout, in the form of a 'tyre-subsidy' for taxi drivers.

This comes on the heel of a potential BR1M 2.0, ostensibly to shore up more electoral support for the 13th general election.

While recipients of these aids will mostly be grateful for the monetary assistance, I can't help but wonder if we have forsaken our dignity and pride.

How else to put it, when BN turned these temporary relief into a frenzied media stunt, as scores of Malaysians queued in order to receive literal hand-outs from BN politicians, who gleefully reminded us how noble they are as they smiled for the cameras.

After pocketing the RM500, a young father heads home in his overpriced Proton Waja, paying an additional few hundred ringgit in monthly installments because the BN government insists on prolonging a failed national car project via the imposition of insanely high duties.

As he comes to yet another toll, he cursed softly as he joined in the congested queue for his turn to pay.

The toll operator smiled sweetly at him as he handed over RM2 to her, and marveled what a wonderful business her employers have when hundreds are lining up to hand over cash with no alternative route to use.

The young father continued his journey home, his mind wandering off on what he should do with his RM500 windfall. He could save it, since he and his wife has been planning for years to purchase their own house.

But with prices escalating year after year, he has resigned himself to the fact that his family will have to put up with their temporary abode for a few more years.

He then thought about his two young daughters. He is determined that both of them must receive a high quality education. He remembered how he was humiliated in his first job interview with a multinational company.

The HR manager scoffed at his degree and mocked his English proficiency, saying that they now prefer foreign or private institutions' graduates in view of the drastic decline in the standard of Malaysia's public universities as illustrated by the world rankings.

 But how to afford private school based on his meagre earnings?

The young father finally reached his house. As he alighted from his car, his two daughters ran towards him, screaming, "Papa! Papa! Mum is hurt!"

He rushed into the house, to see his wife nursing bloody bruises on her head and hand.

"What happened?!" he exclaimed. "Snatch thieves...they grabbed my bag as I was walking home." his wife replied.

He cursed again, and turn to his children and reminded them not to play outside the house as the neighbourhood is simply not safe anymore, unlike in his younger days.

As the young father handed over the BR1M money to his wife, he wondered how this RM500 can lift his family out of their current dire circumstances of low income and rising prices.

And gazing at his daughters, he felt a sudden sense of anxiety - would they too be queuing up for a money voucher some time in the future?