I AM a teacher in a government secondary school in Seremban. I read with trepidation news that Budget 2021 may not see smooth passage in the Dewan Rakyat.
Like the 1.7 million civil servants in Malaysia, I find the news deeply worrying. Let me share my personal experience why this is so.
Although it’s true that we civil servants have not suffered a pay cut or retrenchment during this economically troubling time, our plight is no less troubling.
Take me, for example. My husband was retrenched in June with a negligible severance package after his haulage company experienced a severe drop in business. Whatever retrenchment benefit he received has been wiped out and we are now digging into our savings. It is difficult for him, who is in his mid-40s, to find a job given the current downturn.
Prior to the MCO, I held tuition classes at my house after working hours to supplement my income. After travel restrictions were imposed, I had to stop because the classes did not only violate the SOPs but also put the health of my family at risk. The tuition classes made up 20% of my income and now they are no more.
I have three school-going kids aged between eight and 13. As any parent will attest, raising kids these days is not cheap. And now the burden of providing for the family falls solely on me until my husband lands a job, which, by the looks of things, will take a while.
On top of this, my elderly parents who run a sundry shop in Rantau are also finding it hard to make ends meet. Their business has dropped by some 45% since the MCO and they are having trouble covering their overheads and paying suppliers due to cashflow problems. As a daughter, I am duty-bound to help them financially during such troubling times.
Don’t let me get started on my younger brother who’s in his final year of studies in Bristol. He worked part-time as a waiter in a restaurant near campus before the pandemic to help finance his studies. Now work has grown scarce. At this rate, it is a matter of time before he sends out an “SOS” to keep afloat.
My “lifeline” now is the salary I draw as a teacher, which is not much to begin with. Unlike those in the private sector who may have saved up during the good times, I have not had such a privilege with my meagre government salary.
And now I am told that if Budget 2021 is voted down, the government will shut down and the salaries of government servants will not be paid from January. God knows how long it will take for the government to retable a new budget and have it passed in parliament.
Leaving aside the politics of it, I just hope that Budget 2021 is approved. We civil servants will suffer tremendously and unfairly if it is rejected. – November 18, 2020.
* Worried Teacher reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.