Who are the real philanthropists?

I disagreed with CEUPACS when they successfully urged the government to lower the cut off point for the civil servants to enter the exit policy. I believe 70% is already low. I mean how could you retain a civil servant who can perform at 70% level without any valid reasons? Our civil service would loose what little credibility we could muster thus far. As it is they are too many deadwoods already eating into the service. We need to get rid of them with dignity, not simply sacking them.

Having said that I am totally agreeable to their concern about the growing income disparity between the JUSAs and the ordinary civil servants. I have no statistics on the income gap between the upper echelons and the general workers like us, but Wan Hulaimi in his article in the NST yesterday said that the CEO pay has exploded from 40 times of the ordinary workers’ pay in the 70s to 300 times in the dotcom boom. Even with gloomy economy now, the CEO pay is still about 200 times more than the pay of a typical worker. I still remember a couple of years back when Khazanah Nasional decided to increase the pay of a national utility company’s CEO while at the same time increasing the tariff for the utility for the rakyat. The Minister in charge at the time bravely defended the decision saying that if you want top people to work for the Government Linked Companies (GLCs) you have to pay top salaries.

Money, money, money - it is the richmen's world.

But in actual fact, the company that the CEO is working won’t be getting as much without ordinary people using and buying their product and paying taxes. Even worse with this utility company that had the monopoly of the business, people had no choice but buy their services/product. Actually the rich are as dependent on the state as the poor. So the fabulously rich get richer at the expense of the poor. Hulaimi further iterated that the poor are subsidising the rich in the forms taxes that they cannot avoid and in the work that they are being underpaid. Barbara Ehrenreich said “the real philanthropists in our society are the people who work for less than they can actually live on because they  are giving their time and energy and talent all the time so that people like you can dressed and fed very cheaply and so on”

A London garbage collector went to Jakarta to taste what is it like to be a garbage collector in Jakarta. He observed his counterpart in Jakarta had to work from dawn to dusk and much of the night only to be paid a meagre sum that sentenced him to live  in shanty town near the garbage dump.

So it is only natural that the rich should give back to the poor. In Islam, this is instituted in the Zakat requirement where those who meet the requirement must pay 2.5% of their riches to the poor and needy. This is Islamic way of narrowing the income gap between the rich and the poor. Unfortunately many of us Muslims conveniently forgot to perform this duty.

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