Talk is cheap, Prime Minister


Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing this letter to congratulate you on your 40 years in politics. I wish I could have witnessed your book launching at KL Sentral or attended your photo exhibition in University Pahang. However I am in a dilemma. And that is precisely why I am writing you this letter.

Let me fill you in.

Today, I was informed my scriptwriting fees were slashed by 50 per cent due to massive budget cuts in RTM, which is under one of your ministries – the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia.

This however came as no shock to me.

Having been writing for RTM on a freelance basis for almost a decade, I have noticed how the number of episodes for the programmes I write for were reduced from 48 episodes per season two years ago to 26 at one time. Last year it dwindled to 13. The reason? “Bajet kena potong.”

For a couple of years now, the production team I work with struggled to produce programmes without incurring additional costs – the ministry has no money, the bosses said. This has meant no outstation shooting, no animation, no guest actors, no second cameras, etc.

At one point, I even ended up making puppets of my own to replace the animation works – that’s like you preparing your own speeches!

However this does not only affect me and my fellow scriptwriters who have had our incomes burned to make way for the government’s other necessary expenditure. In fact, all production crew and talents in RTM were badly hit as well. And all of this because “bajet kena potong.”

The thing is Prime Minister, why are there drastic cuts in the ministries’ budgets when you keep assuring us that our economy is on the road to recovery?

Wasn’t it you, who assured us that our economy was growing – higher GDP, rising household income and shrinking deficits?

Retail sales, construction, trade, and exports are all rising – you said.

Trade and private investments that fuel Malaysian businesses, including small and medium enterprises that employ millions of Malaysians are all stating record high figures – you claimed.

And with this growth, things are getting better for Malaysian households – you assured us.

But all this talk of GDP growth and economic trends seem irrelevant when our incomes get butchered and budgets slashed while our household expenditure skyrockets.

Today we see subsidies being removed, GST introduced, tolls increased.

JPA scholarships are frozen, workers retrenched, contracts of university professors not renewed. The people are forced to live their lives within the constraints decided by you and your Cabinet.

I do understand that in order to guarantee our future, security, independence and sustainable growth, sacrifice is crucial. And I also do understand that in any journey, there is bound to be some bumps along the way. But what the people are facing today are not bumps but roadblocks. How then are we supposed to survive if our very livelihood is being threatened?

A couple of years ago, you said this to the nation: “As Prime Minister, my ultimate responsibility is to protect the people of Malaysia. I will never allow our nation’s progress, the well-being of our people, or our sovereignty to come under threat.”

Why then is my income slashed in half?

Why do people in my community lose their employment while people in yours continue their lavish expenditures for ridiculous projects?

Clearly, talk is cheap.

Anyway, I am sure you had a blast celebrating your 40th anniversary in politics.

However, please keep in mind – those 40 years may be all that you have. People will only tolerate hardship as long as they can take it. Push them too hard and then you might just witness them snap.