Thursday, December 30, 2021

Subsidy, Aid and Self-Reliance

After some unprecedented flooding in various States in West Malaysia, the government announced more aid in recent days. In the past 20 months since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the government had given handouts, subsidy and aid to all and sundry, especially the lower income groups. I have no doubt the poorest of the poor are helped and some disadvantaged people need handouts from time to time. But I doubt if we continue to dig into the nation's coffers and borrow more and more money, all these aid and subsidy will be sustainable in the medium to long term. It is important for the citizens of Malaysia not to depend on subsidy and aid.

I have never applied for government hand-outs. Since I am in the bottom B40 and I submit my tax returns annually, Covid-19 aid was paid into my account on a couple of occasions. If that happens, I won't return the money to the government since I am entitled like other citizens within the bottom 40% of the population. But I do not rely on anyone, least of all, the government because I am self-reliant. In fact, I do not rely on myself but on God who feeds me all my life (Jacob's words in Genesis 49). I have not asked for help from any quarters all my adult life. I am grateful to my parents who raised me and supported my studies except that in my University years when I had to borrow from Sabah Foundation which I had fully repaid in 1992. 

Even in the past few days leading to the end of the year when I shall be left without gainful employment going into 2022, I made decisions that go against the grain. I queued up at the EPF (Employees' Provident Fund) early this morning - I was first up with my online appointment, but it was not to withdraw money since I had practically withdrawn everything to supplement my income in the past two years. If you think a family can survive with just over RM2K per month, think again. Yesterday, I was reminded that I paid thousands of ringgit in computing in 2020 when my MacBook Pro broke down and the SSD had to be replaced. The church did not supply anything. Even pens, pencils and paper I bore myself. It is as if I go to war on my own expense (1 Corinthians 9). Nowadays, the very minimum provision is a laptop or desktop at the office for pastoral work such as sermon preparation, Bible Study and general writing. But I bore all these costs without complain. I can go on, but at the end of the day, God sees the heart, and He repays His servants like Jacob who testified that if God had not blessed him, Laban would have left him empty-handed. In the past 28 years, I have worked as a church worker which means these human employers are Christians or leaders of Christian institutions. I have also worked for secular or non-religious institutions (Law firms, University College where I was a law tutor). Sad to say, overall, my experience with the non-religious employers is better than these so-called Christian employers. If non-Christians showed more kindness, fairness and understand justice better than the church or Christian leaders, then woe unto us since we have neglected these main teachings of Christ, "justice, mercy and faithfulness" (Matt 23:23). 

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