Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Beggars can't be choosers

My friend pointed out earlier to me that the Govt could spend more money to make public housing flats for the poor more pleasing in sight. To him, the pigeon hole like units deprived of aesthetics plus squarish windows with prison like grills is a sight for sore eyes.

I agree on the latter but certainly not the former. Why should the Govt spend more money for public housing flats for the poor by making it more aesthetically pleasing? To me, the Govt should spend more effectively to uplift poverty so as the poor don't be beggars. That includes keeping costs of governance low so as more monies are left with the rakyat to decide how to spend/save them.


In not so many words, I summarised what I said with this old saying, "Beggars can't be choosers."

He disagreed. He said beggars can choose which pasar malam to beg from. I merely replied, "Yet they can't choose who to donate to them."

The poor may be poor for many reasons but I admire those who choose to not blame the world but work hard and with whatever limitations they have to lift themselves from poverty. I have seen poor people who took advantage of generosity of others to be dependent on donations. Some even have the audacity to ask why at times you don't help them. I can't move myself to pity these poor people though I believe aid should be given to the poor that wants to improve themselves (and not treat it as a privilege and/or source of income).

I remembered what it was like to be poor (not hardcore poor, just poor). When I was young, I am the one with the least toys and most hand-me-downs among my friends. I have to literally beg my grandma to spend RM5 to buy a small like "Made in China" plastic toy. While everyone raved about their Optimus Prime, my favourite was only plasticine made figurines. My family stayed in my uncle's place, probably to save on cost of living and all four of us cramp in a room.

On one of those particular night, mom scolded dad and they had heated arguments over money. Why? I later found out my dad spend too much monies on his gambling habits and he took monies from mom. Though those were difficult years, I am thankful when I couldn't recall a day I was ever hungry, naked or go without shelter over my head.

Things improved when I started Standard 3 when my dad quit his gambling and focused on work and saving to bring changes for his family. Perhaps I didn't realise it but simple under consumption and saving do provide us with the necessary resources that can be turned into capital for the future. The best example for this is when my family later moved to our own house and our overseas education were were fully funded by FAMA bank.

Perhaps some may say today that the poor nowadays can't even save because basic necessities alone cost more than what they earn. So what is a bit of charity by making the public housing for the poor to look a bit aesthetically pleasing? I don't think pretty windows and/or doors will address the issue of hunger and nakedness.

So yes, it is cruel but true. Beggars can't be choosers. It sucks but seriously, I rather have drains unclogged and roads paved rather than have aesthetically pleasing public housing flats for the poor. I make no apology for that.