Last month I visited Nibong Tebal in the state of Penang, where I was taking part in an event where keys to new homes were presented to families who had lost their previous homes. Whilst there, I had an encounter with a remarkable lady who has stood against all difficulties and hardship to help her family survive. Her story was brought to my attention by my political colleague, Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman.
The lady’s name is Teoh Yong King. I was touched by her story when I learned of it. Her house was razed to the ground in a fire, so she had been forced to stay at a temple for the past three months with her family. Being jobless, she could not afford a new place for the family to stay and sought out help.
Although she received none in the beginning, she did not lose hope, and continued with her efforts to make her plight known. When my local political colleagues learned of her situation we did our utmost to assist her – by building a new house in place of the old one, as well as help with replacing household items that were lost in the fire. All of this would not have come about without her unwavering determination.
This is just one local example of my government’s determination to help those in need – on a national level we have already put in place several programmes to help low income families like Mrs Teoh. Addressing the rising cost of living has been made one of the seven NKRA in line with the GTP (Government Transformation Programme). Financial aid packages for low income households, book vouchers and aid for students are provided to the public. 1Malaysia clinics, convenience stores and restaurants are also available as a cheaper alternative without compromising on quality. The implementation of a minimum wage in the near future will also increase the income of over 400,000 employees.
Through these measures, we are meeting our social and economic responsibility to help people get by. But most importantly we have a moral responsibility to help members of the rakyat who have fallen upon hard times, or who just need a bit of a helping hand – and meeting that responsibility is the mark of a civilised society.