LETTER | The story of 'Ben' in Sabah who peddles a bicycle for kilometers daily to deliver food deserves national attention and debate.
For a long time, employers, business leaders, and condescending politicians have been selling us tales about Malaysians being lazy, choosy, and unwilling to take up difficult jobs.
That argument was used over and over again to bolster justifications to bring in millions of cheap foreign labour into the country.
Today, as the country remains deeply rooted with a lucrative, cheap, and easy supply of migrant workers (legal and undocumented), the Covid-19 challenge proves that Malaysians are not lazy nor are they unwilling to take on any hard work.
The truth that needs to bite in is, politicians and certain political parties had profiteered from facilitating the importation of cheap foreign labour. There is also the harbouring of even cheaper undocumented labour.
It is also true that cheap migrant workers add to the addictive profit margins of plantation owners, factory owners, contractors, builders, and the variety of businesses from retail to wholesale.
And as the pandemic tears through the job markets, with not many innovative government-led re-deployment strategies for Malaysians out of jobs or suffering from massive pay cuts, we can clearly see how resilient, determined, and willing our own citizens can be.
Just look at the uncountable Malaysians plying all the roadways and neighbourhoods across the country, in the rain and broiling sun as they deliver online purchases and takeaway food.
Indeed, this is the right time for a national policy review of how our private sector engines need to be realigned and revamped with the right labor policies.
If we do not bite the bullet and fix a policy that has gone wrong for far too long, come another pandemic or national disaster, we will be reduced fast into a chaotic nation.
It is time to restore the dignity of labour in order for our nation to be transformed into a self-sufficient, more resilient economy.
The overdrive policies designed, built, and driven by condescending political leaders to make a few more millionaires and a handful of billionaires must cease.
Only a healthier, fighting fit, and happier citizenry with ample opportunities for work can protect our nation.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.