SOME of us will be going to the polls soon and as we do so, it is vital to reflect on the pressing issues that continue to plague our country.

The growing economic disparity between the rich and the poor, soaring prices of goods and services and the persistent spectre of racial disintegration demand urgent attention from our leaders and citizens alike.

I am not an economist but our tax patterns may need to be modified to give the poor some hand-holding to cope with the dire price war on goods and services.

Social welfare programmes, job training initiatives and affordable housing projects to improve the lives of the less fortunate must be implemented more aggressively and with greater commitment.

Meanwhile, to cushion the impact of rising prices on the vulnerable population, it is crucial to strengthen and expand social safety nets. This may include increasing welfare benefits, unemployment support and food assistance programmes.

By providing a safety net, we can alleviate the immediate hardships faced by the poor and empower them to improve their situations.

Additionally, the government should focus on policies that foster inclusive economic growth, ensuring that the benefits reach all segments of society.

Providing financial support, training and mentorship to small and medium-sized enterprises and startups can foster job creation and promote economic growth in disadvantaged areas.

In this context, education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. Investing in quality education, especially in underserved regions, will empower the next generation with the skills needed to compete in a rapidly evolving job market.

Additionally, vocational training programmes can provide alternative avenues for employment to individuals who may choose not to pursue traditional academic paths.

I am happy that the government is making great strides in promoting TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) programmes, and it is heartening to note that the private sector is jumping on the bandwagon in a noble bid to give back to society.

The tricky racial issues that are being spurred by irresponsible quarters need greater efforts to be addressed. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s focus on addressing racial disintegration is commendable.

Nevertheless, it is essential to establish platforms that facilitate open dialogues where citizens from diverse backgrounds can express their concerns and experiences.

Promoting initiatives that foster cultural understanding, inclusivity and appreciation for our nation’s diversity can better address the root causes of racial tensions and contribute to building a more unified and cohesive society.

What can we do as citizens?

For those participating in the state elections, it is crucial to remain well-informed about the issues and candidates. Exercise your right to vote by supporting leaders who prioritise addressing these problems and have concrete plans for equitable development.

Additionally, participate in local community meetings, town halls and public forums to voice your concerns and suggestions. Say no to people who merely offer lip service.

Reject pseudo-leaders who exploit race and religion for personal gain and use them as their trump card to divide the community.

As citizens, we should engage in volunteering activities within our community to support those in need. By offering our skills, time or resources to local charities, shelters or community development programmes that aim to uplift disadvantaged individuals and families, we can make a significant difference with just our willingness to contribute.

As a consumer, citizens should be conscious of the products and services they purchase. Support companies that demonstrate ethical practices, social responsibility and fair treatment of their employees.

Promote local businesses, especially those owned by under-represented communities to foster economic growth in marginalised areas.

We should educate ourselves and others about financial management and savings. Additionally, we should encourage family and friends to build emergency funds and invest in education to break the cycle of poverty.

Let us embrace diversity in all aspects of life. By celebrating different cultures, languages and traditions, we can strengthen the social fabric of our community.

Participate in campaigns and petitions to endorse policy initiatives that champion social justice, progressive taxation and the establishment of social safety nets.

Demand accountability from leaders who fail to deliver on their promises and lack action. Engage with elected officials regularly and express your concerns and expectations.

Attend town hall meetings and communicate your stance on specific issues. Advocate for transparent and responsible governance.

Initiate respectful conversations with friends, family and colleagues about the challenges faced by the less privileged, and the importance of unity and inclusivity.

Listen and empathise with the different perspectives to build bridges between communities.

By actively participating in civic life and nurturing a sense of responsibility towards one another, citizens can contribute significantly to countering the mentioned problems and building a more equitable and prosperous society for everyone.

As we approach the state elections and confront the challenges of widening economic disparities, escalating prices and racial disintegration, it is imperative to adopt a comprehensive approach. Let us start with the little things we can do as citizens.

Every good citizen adds to the strength of a nation.


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