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LETTER | A teacher's trepidation over Budget 2021

Worried Teacher

Published
Modified 18 Nov 2020, 1:41 am

LETTER | I am a teacher in a government secondary school in Seremban. I read with trepidation news that the Budget 2021 may not see a smooth passage in the Dewan Rakyat.

Like the over 1.7 million civil servants in Malaysia, this news is deeply worrying. Let me share my personal experience why this is so.

Although it's true that we civil servants did not suffer a pay cut or were retrenched during this economically troubling time, our plight is no less troubling.

Take myself for example. My husband was retrenched in June, with negligible severance package after his haulage company experienced severe drop in business. Whatever retrenchment benefit he received had been wiped out and we are now digging into our savings. In his mid-40s, it'd be difficult for him to find a job given the current downturn.

Prior to the movement control order (MCO), I held tuition classes at my house after working hours to supplement my income. With the travel restrictions imposed, I had to stop doing that because it not just goes against MCO SOPs, but also put the health of my family at risk. The tuition classes used to make up around 20 percent of my total income and now they are no more.

I have three school going kids, aged between eight and 13. As many parents can attest to, raising kids these days is not cheap. And now the burden of providing for the family falls solely on me until my husband lands a job, which by the looks of things, will take a while.

On top of that, my elderly parents who run a sundry shop in Rantau are also finding it hard to make ends meet. Their business has dropped by some 45 percent since MCO and they are having trouble covering their overheads and paying suppliers due to cashflow problems. As a daughter, I am duty-bound to help tide them over financially during such troubling times.

Let's not get started about my younger brother who's in his final year of studies in Bristol. He used to work part-time as a waiter in a restaurant near his campus before the pandemic to help support his studies. Now, work is few and far in between there. At this rate, it'd be a matter of time before he sends out an "SOS" to keep him afloat.

For me personally, my economic "lifeline" now is the salary I draw as a teacher, which is not even much to begin with. Unlike those in the private sector who may have made more savings during the good times, I do not have such a privilege with my meagre government salary.

And now, I am told that if Budget 2021 is voted down, there will be a government shutdown and the salaries of government servants will not be paid from January. And God knows how long it'd take for the government to retable a new Budget and have it approved in Parliament.

Leaving aside the politics of it, I just hope that Budget 2021 is approved. We civil servants will suffer tremendously and unfairly if the Budget is voted down.

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