Friday, 18 October 2013

Inconvenient truth: the beleaguered poor needs help

While driving to dinner last night with my wife, she was relating to me a story about the old guard at her office. Their daytime guard is contracted from independent security firms. I don't know which security firm her office uses but I do know that there are several around. Some are big ones and some are pretty small but presumably, their hiring policies should be more or less the same.

The story she wanted to tell me was that she discovered that the guard had gone to see a doctor recently and the doctor had diagnosed that he was weak and suffering from malnutrition. This came as a complete shock to me. I knew the guard was poor but to learn that he was malnourished, well, that puts his poverty into a different perspective.

How could he be malnourished, I inquired. Apparently, according to my wife, the doctor told her that he had been subsisting only on instant noodles. Not maggi mee, but the even cheaper ones. And he had been eating only noodles for a very long time. You see, there was not enough money in his household to buy anything else.

This is the unfortunate plight of many poor in this country. If you can read my blog, that means that you already have the means, you have the money, you are wealthy enough to pay for your Internet usage either directly or indirectly.

However, the poor guard does not care much for the Internet; he is more worried about where his next meal will come from. And the problem is compounded because in his line of work, he is paid only for each day he works. If he is sick and cannot work, he is not paid for that day. There is little or no healthcare provision from his employer, the security company. He cannot take any leave because his wages will be deducted for those off days too. He needs to work long hours and he needs to work on Saturdays and Sundays because this is all survival money to him and his family.

So knowing all this, do you have a tinge of compassion in your body? Would you want to do something to help this person's dignity? Giving him money will not help solve his problem but my wife suggested that a regular contribution of small nutritional food rations will go a long way to help people such as him. I think too, the Penang government should look into their programme to eradicate poverty and see whether this old guard - and others like him - qualifies for their monthly assistance.

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