What happens to the people when contracts are cancelled

On May 9, after GE14, I went to bed with my conscience at rest with myself. In a small way, I thought, I had done a prodigious deed. My vote made a difference, I chose to think. I cried alongside the leaders who waged the war of the century to save Malaysia from drowning. I was proud to have been part of the making of Malaysia Baru.

About a month ago, after returning from college one evening, I saw my 63-year-old father completely lost in his own thoughts. His forced smile didn’t reflect happiness: it was hollow and senseless. When I sat next to him, I could see the veins pumping in his neck and forehead; he suddenly seemed to have aged.

His melancholy state terrified me. When I asked him what was wrong, he said he may not have a job anymore. My father supplied hardware to a contractor who was involved in a big project. He was the sole breadwinner in my family. My family is waiting to see me through college so that I can carry on the legacy of caring for them.

I still remember the proud moment two years ago when my father came back with the announcement of his biggest achievement of having won the contract for a small portion of pipe-laying works for a big job.

I also vividly recall the day when the government made the first cancellation. We huddled together and I told my father Malaysia Baru knew what it was doing. We lived in hope of seeing better days ahead of us.

But he knew better. He shook his head vehemently with pain in his eyes, perhaps knowing full well that things would never be the same.

I have since taken on a part-time job while my father still waits, hoping that I might have been right.

Today, seeing the headlines in the papers, I learnt that another job had been taken away. My heart is weak with fear and worry, a grim reminder that mars my days. Questions are ringing in my head on how many families like mine will lose their income. I felt drained.

Every time a job is cancelled or postponed, the effect is far-reaching and goes beyond what the government cares to know. The saying “short-term pain for long-term gain” does not fit the context here, when decisions are made in haste and at whim.

For the first time since the election, I am questioning the wisdom of Malaysia Baru – whether it truly has the welfare of the people at heart. The Council of Eminent Persons and the team of ministers are there because we the rakyat wanted better days ahead of us.

But with each passing day, I am reminded that politicians will always be politicians. Is there some ulterior motive to punish the big boys which are leaving the smaller ones in poverty? Why do I see a triumphant smirk stretched across the face of power and authority? Does Malaysia Baru care for us, or is it another set of vultures, not after money but perhaps revenge?

All I see now is a whole lot of disorientation on the ground. Small and big businesses are reeling from the lack of opportunities. People are out of jobs. But all we hear is that the government does not have enough money. This is being loudly trumpeted – is it to seek sympathy?

I am a student. In a year’s time I will be out in the job market, and I don’t know what Malaysia holds for me anymore. I don’t see even a flicker of hope now, only the horror of a dark tomorrow.

JE Lim is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.