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3e: Economic Justice


Preamble

The vision to achieve a just, equitable and inclusive society is enshrined in the

Rukunegara, which was conceptualised in 1970. We are far from realising this

national aspiration. This policy area encapsulates the aspirations of our People to

work and live with dignity in a fair and inclusive Nation. The key proposals focus

on policies and the requisite institutional-leg

al frameworks to ensure economic

rights and social justice for all our People.

I. Inclusive Society


Malaysians support policies and programmes that look out equally for all and

help the needy, regardless of social status, race or religion. We also welcome

policies that promote participation, capability and diversity. However, the

political rhetoric over the New Economic Policy and its subsequent incarnations

has downplayed these aspirations. This is an opportunity for a national policy to

provide clarity on these objectives, and to align programmes in a systematic and

constructive manner. A new policy framework that safeguards equality in basic

rights, dignity and well-being, while promoting participation, capability and

diversity is required.

(Dr. Lee Hwok Aun, Proposal 3E-1)

1. Build a cohesive society based on equality and fairness.

Reformulate the pillars of development to make it inclusive, based on:

i. Equality—provision of basic needs and decent living standards to all,

based on the principles of equality, dignity and human rights. These

policies specifically involve basic education, public health services,

nutrition, social protection, shelter, basic income and decent work

conditions.

ii. Fairness—develop capabilities and promote participation in order to

reduce intergroup disparities in access, opportunity, capability and

representation, and ultimately to narrow income and wealth gaps. The

key areas are tertiary education, professional-managerial occupations,

enterprise development, wealth and property ownership.

(Dr. Lee Hwok Aun, Proposal 3E-1)

2. Establish an Equal Opportunity Employment Commission to safeguard

minority groups from discrimination at the workplace.

(Anusha Arumugam, Proposal 3E-2)

Young Malaysians from minority groups have raised concerns over racial

discrimination in employment, particularly with regards to opportunities for

career development. Institutional and legal measures should be set in place to

reduce and prevent issues of racial discrimination, based on principles of equality

and justice.

3. Promulgate a Social Inclusion Act and establish an independent Social

Inclusion Commission directly answerable to Parliament.

(Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia, Proposal 3E-3)

Forty per cent of Malaysians are still trapped in the intergenerational cycle of

poverty and inequality. Vulnerable individuals and groups continue to encounter

prejudice, discrimination and remain marginalised. We need an independent

commission to oversee poverty reduction, marginalisation and social

inclusiveness. Furthermore, a Social Inclusion Act should be enacted to establish

legal provisions for specific matters such as:

i. Fulfilling the basic needs of all people fairly and equitably.

ii. Upholding the fundamental values of self-reliance, self-esteem and the

dignity of our people.

iii. Providing our children with the capability to break the intergenerational

cycle of poverty and inequality.


II: Impact of COVID-19 on Vulnerable Groups


The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inherent weaknesses of Malaysia’s

numerous social protection programmes. The overarching system is not designed

to meet the basic needs of food and shelter, nor to adequately address the

socioeconomic vulnerabilities and fiscal challenges that affect a sizeable

proportion of our population and residents of this country. A comprehensive

social protection system is imperative to ensure that the basic needs of all

citizens, especially the vulnerable, are met.

4: Ensure social protection for low-income households headed by women.

Women and children from low-income urban households are among those who

have been most adversely impacted. COVID-19 has vastly reduced women’s

economic opportunities, particularly those working part-time and informally with

low pay and no savings. This group experienced disproportionate difficulties in

accessing social safety nets, healthcare services and internet connectivity/

technology. The social protection system needs to be re-evaluated to provide

robust and comprehensive protection, especially for women and children from

the urban poor and vulnerable communities.

i. Design specific social protection policies to provide for low-income

households headed by women.

ii. Establish a central coordinating committee with representation from all

stakeholders to address issues and coordinate social assistance

programmes.

(Lim Su Lin, People’s Health Forum, Proposal 3E-4)

5. Conduct a Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot experiment to evaluate

the suitability of full implementation by 2025.

(Dr. Nurul Kauthar, IKRAM Pulau Pinang, Proposal 3E-5)

The UBI is one way of addressing income security for the most vulnerable

groups.


III. Affordable Public Housing for Targeted Groups in

Need of Decent Shelter


The national median monthly household income of a household of four in 2019

is RM5,873, rendering affordable housing beyond the means of at least 50% of

the people. It will take at least 60 times this amount to get a decent shelter. The

provision of adequate housing is a fundamental right under the Universal

Declaration of Human Rights 1948.

6. Take steps towards collaborative, affordable, community-based

housing.

i. Adopt the Industrialised Building System (a Malaysian term to describe

the use of automation, mechanisation and prefabrication of components

for the building industry) and the 3-D printing method, and use

environmentally sustainable housing materials.

ii. Establish a national youth housing project based on the rent-to-own

concept.

iii. Enhance funding for community housing through the use of Petronas

dividends, Permodalan Nasional Berhad investment contributions and

government bonds.

(CS Loh & Dr. Tai Tuck Leong, Monsoon Malaysia, Proposal 3E-6)

7. Adopt an efficient public housing policy.

To contain the rising cost of urban housing that is affected by real estate

speculation in a free market economy:

i. devolve powers to state governments and local authorities to supply

public housing.

ii. transform unmarketable apartments/condominiums into public housing

rentable units. Establish a universal criterion for rental eligibility by

proximity to work location, irrespective of income group.

iii. give fresh graduates a subsidy for public housing rental and accord this

group higher priority when it comes to approval of such rentals.

(Wong Tsu Soon, Agora Society Malaysia, Proposal 3E-7)

8. Promulgate an Estate Workers Housing Act.

The demand for guarantee of housing for estate workers stems from a legacy of

being denied basic housing ownership rights for over three decades. Once their

contract period ends, estate workers are vulnerable to eviction since they do not

possess legal ownership over their living quarters. The low wages mean that

workers are often unable to afford a house, even houses built under the

government’s affordable housing schemes, as prices are constantly rising. The

Housing Scheme for Estate Workers, formulated by then prime minister Tun

Abdul Razak Hussein in the 1970s, was a laudable policy on paper but its

implementation and enforcement remain far from reality.

An Estate Workers Housing Act is needed to ensure that:

i. owners/employers adopt and abide by the Housing Scheme ownership

policy for current and ex-workers.

ii. the Housing Scheme for Estate Workers is fully subsidised by the federal

or state government.

iii. current services and facilities for workers are retained in the new housing

area.

(Karthigesu Manickam, MARHAEN, Proposal 3E-8)

9. Stop evicting urban pioneers.

Urban pioneer villages have been around for almost 50 years. The current

residents are third- and fourth-generation descendants of villagers or estate

workers who had migrated to the cities for survival, and were even welcomed by

the government, as additional labour was needed for the growing cities. In the

1970s and 1980s, the government allocated land to these pioneers for farming

purposes. However, the villages are located on private property and government

reserve land, and the residents are now under constant threat of eviction. The

contribution of urban pioneers to the development of our cities is immeasurable

and needs to be duly recognised by:

i. Recognising the existing villages as traditional villages and giving the

villagers the requisite land grants.

ii. Providing communities identified for relocation with alternative housing

prior to any eviction or demolition. Alternatively, a temporary transit

housing with fair rental must be provided till the alternative housing is

completed.

iii. Ensuring that the alternative housing is near the original village to reduce

disruption to the urban pioneers’ livelihood.

iv. Promulgating an Anti-Eviction Act to ensure the fundamental rights of

pioneers to alternative land/housing and adequate compensation.

(Parameswary Elumalai, MARHAEN, Proposal 3E-9)

10. Local councils must be responsible for the maintenance of low-cost

flats.

The physical state of low-cost flats in the country is generally appalling, resulting

in an unconducive living environment for occupant families, while negatively

affecting their physical and mental health. Under statutory law, the Joint

Management Body (JMB) of each low-cost development is responsible for

overseeing maintenance and cleanliness. However, the monthly fees imposed by

JMBs are often beyond what the majority of tenants can afford, on top of having

to pay assessment and land/parcel taxes.

Further, there have been many reported cases of low-cost flat residents being

subjected to unjust treatment by local authorities, such as having to pay the local

council double the amount charged to residents of low-cost-terraced houses for

fewer services.

Henceforth, to ease the burden of low-cost flat dwellers, all local councils should

assume responsibility for the maintenance services of low-cost flats, with

appropriate checks and balances in place to ensure integrity in the process.

(Madhavi Sahatuan, MARHAEN, Proposal 3E-10)
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