Leading politicians in Sarawak seem addicted to showing off how kind they are by handing out money and cheques to the poor and downtrodden in society.
[See our Slideshow of Shame below]
Scarcely a day goes by when newspapers do not feature a “very poor person” receiving this ‘benevolence’ from smug and very wealthy individuals, who want the world to see how ‘generous’ they are.
Sarawak Report wishes to protest that it is absolutely wrong and most sinful to parade the poor in this disgusting fashion.
We ask how dare these political figures force the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society to undergo the humiliation of being photographed, while grovelling for handouts, be it be food, cash, cheques or rainwater butts?
And how dare these privileged individuals and religious organisations abuse the dignity of people, who are already suffering privation, by exhibiting their problems to the world and showing them off like zoo animals without any right to basic privacy over their problems?
These handouts in front of the flash photographers are frequently carried out in the name of religion. But, all religions deplore the grandstanding of charity and rightly so.
Gifts to those who are in need ought to be encouraged, but they should be made privately.
They should not be shouted about, boasted over or worst of all, demean the recipient.
This applies whether the money has come from an individual or the state.
Whose money is it anyway?
Politicians in Sarawak invariably queue up to play the bountiful fellow for these publicity handouts. But how often are they letting go of their own money?
In fact, what these wealthy individuals are almost invariably passing over is money raised from the community, not their own cash.
This is either public money, which BN politicians like to shower around in their own constituencies as if they were personally supporting their constituents, in order to buy votes.
Or they are handing out money raised from Islamic funds.
In particular the Assistant Minister for Islamic Affairs, Daud Abdul Rahman and his boss the Chief Minister are constantly photographed exhibiting their ‘generosity’, using money raised from other people through Islamic taxes.
This Baitulmal organisation has subsequently become increasingly aggressive in its demands for these ‘voluntary’ contributions and indeed earlier this month it was announced that Muslim YBs are now having their salaries docked at source by the fund.
It is now widely expected that all Muslim civil servants will also soon have their own salaries docked to pay into the fund.
Likewise, Daud has taken on an increasingly aggressive stance towards ”sinners’, over whom he appears to assume a sense of responsibility in his role as Minister for Islamic Affairs.
Sarawak now fines people who are found not fasting during Ramadam (more money for his fund) and Daud says he plans to shame them in front of the mass media in future – returning to his favourite theme of grandstanding at the expense of others.
However, because Daud’s state-imposed Baitulmal fund refuses to be transparent or publish its accounts, it is impossible to know how much of his own money or indeed the Chief Minister’s money has been contributed to the hand outs to the poor, which he so enjoys presiding over.
After all, Sarawak Report has revealed that Daud’s own company Eastbourne Corporation has received nearly one billion ringgit in public contracts in recent years.
Bearing in mind that he is the Minister for Infrastructure Development and this is the corrupted State of Sarawak, this may come as little surprise. But, in his guise as Minister for Islamic Affairs, he should prove to us if he has contributed 9% of his own profits!
Taib’s Baitulmal site is full of pictures of its charitable events. Surely, such handouts should be made with discretion and sympathy to improve the lives of people who have met misfortune, not turned into a circus of applause for the politician concerned?
Certainly, this is cheap publicity for the politicians who are doing nothing more than taking credit for the money that others have raised.
Why are so many poor in need of Taib and Daud’s sanctimonious charity?
The most horrible expression of this sickening patronising of the poor came in the recent Global Witness filmed expose of Taib’s family land grabs.
Here the Chief Minister’s own cousins were recorded openly sneering at poor Sarawakians, while attempting to illegally sell off their native lands to a foreign company.
In the film Taib’s first cousin, Fatimah Abdul Rahman accuses the owners of the land she has taken, calling them grafters. “These people are extremely poor”, she says and complains they are always wanting something from their ‘leaders’. At the same time sister Norlia dismissed their native land rights by calling them “squatters”.
“You know they are very, very poor and when leaders come they look at leaders like they are kings and they always expect some handouts, things like that you know” [Fatimah]. “They are actually squatters on the land” [Norlia]
Once the sisters have made millions selling off the Dayak lands, perhaps they plan to be photographed distributing some packages of noodles to the victims of their greed?
Because, all the politicians who are handing out these small bundles of support have in fact removed billions in resources from the people of Sarawak.
These resources could have been used to prevent them from becoming poor in the first place.
Sarawak’s poverty is caused by corruption
If Sarawak’s wealth had been used wisely and for the good of the people there would be no need for anyone in this rich country to be begging for food.
It is only because of the theft by Taib and his family and cronies that there is hunger and want in the state.
For every small cheque or donation that this Chief Minister publicly hands out, Abdul Taib Mahmud has secretly stolen millions from the very people he is humiliating.
See our slideshow of shame [below] of photographs of the poor being paraded for political opportunists on their websites and newspapers.
There is no shortage of poor people to be patronised in Sarawak. Single mothers are photographed receiving their food parcels or cheques, the dying are shown in squalor, the sick in their hospital beds, survivors of fires have to smile for their supper. All so that politicians can buy votes with money that belongs to the community, not them.
Sarawak’s leaders should stop humiliating the poor.