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A debtor's lifestyle: Progress a lifelong burden
22/01/2007 NST
J.D. LOVRENCIEAR, Semenyih, Selangor

SOON, the nation would be abuzz with preparations for the 50th anniversary of independence. And as we prepare for that milestone, perhaps a review of the actual economic situation affecting ordinary citizens is timely and prudent.

Despite all the progress we claim to have and, in some cases, have achieved, the rakyat today seem to have only one financial tunnel to travel through. Predominantly, it is a "debtor" lifestyle living on credit.

A university student graduates with a study loan that needs to be repaid. And before getting a job, a credit card is already in the wallet.

Upon getting a job, a car has to be bought on hire purchase, otherwise getting to and from work would be a nightmare, given the state of our public transport.

A few years into the job, the family pressures to get married set in. And along with that comes the need to buy a little link house or apartment which has now crossed the RM150,000 mark. A long-term loan has to be secured to have that roof over your head.

In summary, every young citizen enters the job market as a debtor and remains so for the next 30 years of his or her life.

The monthly salary goes to the credit card payments, and housing, car and study loans.

At the end of each pay day, there is hardly enough to stash aside for most people unless they are living off parental subsidies.

And when the children start coming along, the squeeze on the finances only gets worse.

Under such an economic architecture, should any global financial misfortune hit our shores, what happens to the citizens?

Already, with the rising monthly expenditure of households covering toll, fuel, utilities and food, Malaysians are finding it difficult to make ends meet. And with shrinking job opportunities and retrenchments, it can be a nightmare for people.

It is about time to take a long and hard look at the economic trap that we have all entered into.

If unattended to, we will only witness the rise of a host of social problems in the long run.

After all, what good are the superstructure trappings and infrastructure marvels when the man in the street cannot live a life without being a debtor?


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