Aspirasi president repeats call for RM500 emergency basic income

Part of the long queue at Carpenter Street during the first day of the CMCO yesterday (May 12, 2020).

KUCHING, May 13: Aspirasi president Lina Soo is calling on the Sarawak Government to implement Emergency Basic Income (EBI) for every Sarawakian above 18 amounting to RM500 for six months to assist those individuals affected badly by the restricted movement order.

She opined that such financial aid would assist those who have been missed out by the present system.

“I would like to call upon the Sarawak government to implement an Emergency Basic Income (EBI) for every Sarawakian above 18 at RM500 for six months to help poor Sarawakians who are at breaking point, and to kickstart the economy and provide liquidity to the market,” the Sarawak People’s Aspiration Party (Aspirasi) president asserted in a statement today.

Soo claimed that the Sarawak government’s stimulus packages are not equitable and do not put cash in the pockets of the people who need it.

“There are many Sarawakians who are left out for many reasons: they do not have an income tax file, they have lost their jobs and livelihoods, they are unsuccessful in getting re-employed, and many have failed to secure their first job after leaving school or college,” she added.

Soo asserted that the Sarawak government has not updated the B40 categorisation, which is causing many Sarawakians in need to be left out.

“Sarawak has a rural population and many live in remote areas where there is no electricity, let along Internet access or banking facilities. Many self-employed have lost their sources of income, but do not benefit because of conditions attached to the aid, so as a consequence, when the people need the government’s assistance most, many Sarawakians are left out,” she added.

Soo reiterated that EBI would be a direct payment to the individual to create economic resilience and ease the peoples’ anxiety and uncertainty.

“The economic fallout (from the Movement Control Order or MCO) has created a calamitous impact on Sarawakians living from hand to mouth, and it is the government’s duty to alleviate their financial pain and sufferings.”

On a related issue, Soo claimed that the long queue at a pawnshop at Carpenter Street which reopened yesterday could be interpreted as a negative indication of the people’s wellbeing.

“On the first day of CMCO (Conditional Movement Control Order) in Sarawak, businesses reopened without much fanfare. But one commercial activity that was noticeably doing brisk business in Kuching was the pawnshop (‘kedai pajak gadai’) where a long line of customers queued up to be attended to.

“The level of activity in the pawnbroker business, or moneylending business is a good indicator of the economy and reflects the financial situation of the poorer sections of the society,” she opined.

Soo revealed she had spoken with three people waiting in line and learned that two of them came to pawn their gold and one came to pay interest owed.

Meanwhile, Soo also appealed to the Sarawak government to bring back Sarawakians stranded in other parts of Malaysia, notably in Labuan and Johor Bahru.

“Flights from these two spots have stopped operating and there are some Dayak stranded in Johor Bahru who have lost their livelihoods and are unable to come back. I call upon the Sarawak government to assist our distressed Sarawakians to fly home as for some of them their money will run out very soon.”

Soo expressed hope that the Sarawak government will continuously engage with and assist Sarawakians who have suffered an unprecedented blow and upheaval to their lives from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Unusual times call for unusual measures and I hope the Sarawak government can rise to the occasion,” added Soo. — DayakDaily