WHEN you are too busy looking after other people’s backyards, you may sometime overlook the mess in your own.
Last night, some of my media friends followed the Penang Welfare Department on a late-night rescue mission of the homeless in Penang.
I have been told the majority of the 33 rescued from various locations in George Town are Penangites, which left me wondering – is Penang not a state which cares for the less fortunate?
Why are there Penangites who are still homeless? Where are the poverty eradication programmes once promised by the DAP state government?
Why are there Penangites who are homeless in Penang when even foreigners in Penang can have a roof over the head, if not a luxury super condo by the sea?
Well to be fair, this is not something new be it in Penang or the whole country but when the Penang state government claimed that it had achieved zero poverty in 2009, many questions come to mind.
Not too long ago, the DAP-led Penang state government announced plans to raise household income to at least RM770 next year to become the first state in the country to eradicate poverty.
The matter was announced by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng while tabling the 2013 Budget, promising a top-up in income of households earning less than RM770.
Penang has fast made its way to becoming a tourist attraction. Won’t this make tourists wonder why Penang seems to look good with such impeccable amenities but yet there are vagrants around?
Sure vagrants are everywhere in the world but then they should not be homeless in Penang when the state government is such a caring one.
Penang Health, Welfare and Caring Society Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh had once told the press that the state was coming up with programmes to eradicate poverty in a year’s time since it took over the state in 2008.
He even mentioned that the state was proposing to corporate companies a special adoption scheme to help eradicate hardcore poverty in Penang.
So what has happened to all the programmes to eradicate poverty in Penang? Was it just just another empty promise by the DAP state government?
Where are the promises by the state government to provide housing to the poor?
A search on the Penang state government’s official website www.penang.gov.my does not seem to indicate whether it has identified the number of the hardcore poor in Penang or the homeless or where those needing shelter can go.
Perhaps there is no such access because the state government thinks it has managed to overcome to problem of poverty in Penang? Then what about the homeless Penangites rescued by the welfare department last night?
Where are the outreach programs for these people by the state government?
Well if there were then obviously it is not working because there are still homeless Penangites in their own state.
The Penang state government always seems to take pride in it generating its income through tourism with the increase in the number of tourists every year and its success in attracting foreign investors into the state.
If the state is so rich, why are there still poor people around? Why is the wealth not equally distributed?
Why then criticise others if Penangites are suffering in their own state? Or perhaps politicians in Penang are too busy tackling federal issues that state issues have been overlooked, including this oversight?
It is high time the Penang state government look into the issue as it has been making the promise for years since taking over Penang in 2008.
How are you going to govern a whole nation and make it better if you cannot even look after your own state?