When I took off to Sg. Apong this morning, I was expecting to see something unpleasant after Toni bin Bahram contacted me yesterday. He told me it is an emergency and need my help urgently.
When I walked up the wooden planks to his house, I observed that some houses in the front were alright but it get worst I walked deeper in.
I had expected Toni’s house to be in a bad condition but I did not expect it to be in a dilapidated state. The house slanted towards the river looking like it is going to fall any minute.
Toni introduced me to his wife, Narani bte Keram and son Adam, a pleasant young man who smiles a lot despite his condition. Adam is the only one who is educated in the family and has yet to finish his studies in Unimas. He is the family’s hope to get them out of their poverty.
There were more unpleasant sights that greeted me. The kitchen is forever flooded especially during king tide.
Toni said there is no peace as long as they are in the house. He said anytime of the day, the house might just give way and collapse. One of his grandson had fallen into a broken hole in the house and was saved by a neighbor.
What anger me is that for the past three years, Toni has been to the Ministry of Rural development under DCM Tan Sri Alfred Jabu and the Resident asking for assistance. There were assurances and no help was given. For four decades, BN is the ruling government and there is no end in sight for the hardcore poor.
Toni said he had no choice as he ran out of faith with the government.
Having seven children and working in Bermas, Toni was forced to quit after an accident. He now has to work as a security guard to feed the large brood of family. Four of his children are still with him. Only two are working while one is jobless and one studying. Two grandchildren are also with him.
Earning a pay of RM650 while his two children earn less, the family is living from hand to mouth.
Just recently, Chief Minister boasted of the State’s status, how the income of each household will grow and how rich the state is.
Yes, I totally agreed with him on the latter one, the rich Sarawak full of natural resources but who benefit from it.
There are a handful of rich leaders and their cronies, a large number of ordinary people who slave and slog like the majority of us and a big number who is dirt poor like Toni. Is the State government so high up that they cannot look down to see people like us and Toni. How many Tonis are there in Sarawak and the government is neglecting them.
Toni is a Malay and despite the BN government shouts of Malay supremacy, Toni in his rundown house look far from being supreme or well fed or rich. The shouting is all a slogan to allow the top leaders to continue their lives of riches while the rest of the people remain poor. The gap of the rich and the poor widens and this is dangerous –for the rich.
The country has 40% household whose income is less than RM1,500 per month. Out of four, three are Malays and Bumi.
When reporters asked Toni how much privilege did he get for being a Malay. Tony answered immediately that he did get a number of free items, that is the sunshine, the air and the rain. The rest, he is as ‘poor’ and as ‘under-privilege’ like the non-Malays.
Whatever it takes, I am going to help Toni to apply for the scheme meant for the poor. A neighbor of his, a teacher got a sum of money from the Ministry of Rural development to repair and renovate the house. If a teacher can get it, what about a poor security guard. What is so “odd” about him that he did not deserve to be helped?