Thursday, January 09, 2014

'Have Dialogues With The Masses To Explain Current Issues', Bernama, 7 January 2014

Have Dialogues With The Masses To Explain Current Issues

By Nur Aimidiyana Zuher

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 7 (Bernama) -- The government has to hold more dialogues or forums with the masses to explain on the current issues especially the ones relating to the rise in the cost of living, said a political analyst.

Of late, the rise in prices of goods and services including cooking oil, sugar and electricity tariff has been the hot topic following the government's move to rationalise subsidies.

The government's move had created numerous reactions including protests and this has to be explained properly.

The Deputy Dean of Social Science Studies Centre at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Associate Professor Dr Sivamurugan Pandian noted that the sharing of information between the government and the society is important and the two way interaction would help facilitate the implementation of policies.


Yet the question remains whether the government could explain whether the policies are justified?

Commenting on this, Sivamurugan said the people had to be given the opportunity to grasp the essence and purpose of the policies before they were implemented.

Therefore, shedding light effectively on a policy could help avoid confusion or calm down fears among the people.

He provided the six percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) to be implemented in April 2015 as announced by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak when tabling the 2014 Budget as something that has to be explained to the people.

"In 2013 we went through the 13th General Election, and this year the people will like to see the promises under the manifestos fulfilled," he told Bernama.

He said effective communication relating to a particular issue could help people grasp better understanding on the actions taken by the government, and this prevents them from easily swayed by parties that take advantage of the situation.


However, one must not forget that in reality, the prices after the reduction of the subsidies will reflect the real market price and the real economic environment.

In reducing the private sector expenditure, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Dec 30, 2013 announced 11 steps including reducing the entertainment allowance of the ministers and deputy ministers by 10 percent effective Jan 1, 2014.

The government also announced the reduction in entertainment allowance between five and 10 percent for senior civil servants in the JUSA C and above salary scale .

Sivamurugan noted that the move to reduce public expenditure through the 11 steps proved that the government is fully aware on the burden felt by the people.

"However, in the long term the government not only has to consider the costs that will be going up but also has to adopt systematic management," he said.

The government's move could also be emulated by the private sector.


Meanwhile, Malaysian Islamic Consumer Association's (PPIM) chief activist Datuk Nadzim Johan noted that though consumers disliked the rise in prices of goods and services, they have to view it positively.

"Consumers have to change their perception and should not depend on the government alone. They have to change their lifestyle and the way they spend, for example if the individual smokes then it's better to stop smoking.

"Apart from that, consumers too should be smart in managing their finances and in increasing their income," he said, adding that it is undeniable that Malaysians were feeling the heat due to the spike in the prices.

As for the former President of the Malaysian Youth Movement Tan Pei Leong, the society has to prepare itself in facing the challenges of 2014 calmly and in preserving the inter-racial harmony.

"Whatever the decision there will always be some who agree and some who don't agree. Nevertheless, we as Malaysians cannot be sitting on our laurels without finding ways that will benefit us," he said.

Tan said being an informed society each individual has to learn how to be resilient in facing the raising cost of living.


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