No one is immune to the impacts of the pandemic.
While some Malaysians may be more vulnerable to poverty than others, the pandemic has undoubtedly levelled the playing field where those who were certain of their job security had to face challenges in overcoming job loss, salary cuts and unforeseen budget constraints.
On the flip side, while the pandemic brought unthinkable storms to many families, it has also revealed the kindness, empathy and generosity of Malaysians. A clear example was the #benderaputih movement, a cry for help from those in dire need and the immediate wave of help from those who have some extra to give.
Malaysians from all walks of life scoured the Internet looking for avenues to donate, volunteer and offer help. This is a testament to Malaysian unity that cuts across religious, racial and ethnic boundaries. The same sentiment was shared by our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob at the launch of “Keluarga Malaysia” earlier in November.
As we are a family, we protect each other. As a brother, you will help your less fortunate siblings who are in difficulty. You will help them. You won’t leave them alone … so (we become) a caring society. This is a Malaysian Family, religion and race will not separate us if there is a family bond. We will look after our families, we will defend our families. – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob
Take The Good And Build On It
In line with the concept of “Keluarga Malaysia”, the ‘Key Happiness Outcome’ was proposed as “an instrument to identify and monitor the satisfaction and voice of the people, through the concept of Keluarga Malaysia”.
Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak chimed in on his view of Happiness, or in Bahasa Malaysia, Sejahtera – which is larger than Happiness. He suggests that in order for a nation to be happy one needs to see individuals as people, not just as human capital or a statistic.
The idea of strengthening the family must start from the nuclear family where values, respect and good foundations are laid. However, it must not stop there. The happiness, security, stability and inherent goodness that come from a strong family must flow outwards, to our communities, businesses and nation at large.
It is not about obtaining individual happiness and living self-centered, silo lives – but it’s about collectively sharing and caring for one another.
A good keluarga starts with a collective inner peace (sejahtera) extending outwards to the larger society in perpetuity. – Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
The radical shift in mindset is necessary for building Malaysia up. The resilience of our nation is dependant on the strength of her people.
Learning From The ‘Family Unit’ On How To Overcome Poverty
While there are many definitions of poverty, it can be understood as the condition of a person who is deprived of resources, means and opportunities to acquire and maintain a basic level of living standards and to participate in society meaningfully.
Having witnessed the pandemic at a global scale and experienced it at a local level, the pandemic has uncovered and reinforced the need for individuals, communities and businesses to band together collectively in times of crisis in order to survive. The same unity is required for us as a nation to thrive in the future as we step into the endemic stage.
It is vital to remember that not everyone is starting on the same level. In a family, everyone shares the same last name, but each has its own unique set of needs. In order to reach a state where everyone in the family is happy and content – Sejahtera, equity must be practised.
Some need more help than others, and few don’t really need help at all. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
As Malaysians, we must keep our ears to the ground and look out for each other. The nation’s happiness hangs on our ability to listen well and act wisely for the common good of all.
Sejahtera is founded on the realisation that the most profound needs of humans are not necessarily material or physical and that there are other non-material or non-economic elements. The natural, social, cultural, emotional, psychological, spiritual and ethical domains are equally vital in giving meaning and higher purpose to life. – Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
In order to withstand the economic challenges that are looming ahead, a coordinated approach from diverse groups – government and non-government alike are required. It must recognise that when some members of our communities cannot reach their full potential, we are all affected, as a nation.
Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak will be giving Introductory Remarks on how we can be “W.I.S.E.R” in coming together as a collective society for the greater good of Malaysia at The Hasanah Forum 2021. The two-day online forum on 17 and 18 November aims to bring together local and global leaders from across civil society, academia, government and corporates to deliberate and intensify conversations on how Malaysia can move towards a just and equal nation and the significant role of changemakers at every level. Registration is free and we invite you to be part of the conversation. Register now!
Explore Our Sources:
- Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM). (2021). The Household Income Estimates and Incidence of Poverty Report, Malaysia, 2020. Link
- The Sun Daily. (2021). Malaysian Family: “Key Happiness Outcome” instrument to monitor satisfaction – Ismail Sabri. Link.
- Dzulkifli Abdul Razak. (2021). To realise Keluarga Malaysia, we must sanitise our heads and hearts, not just hands. New Straits Times. Link.
- Dzulkifli Abdul Razak. (2021). ‘Sejahtera’ goes beyond ‘happiness’. New Straits Times. Link.