Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Two sides of a coin

The bill came to RM 50.97.

He hesitantly took out a crumpled RM 10.00 and slowly handed it over to the cashier.

It was the eve of Raya and I had to buy a few grocery items for the long weekend. I was standing in line behind a group of foreign workers from Indonesia. I scanned the items he had purchased. There was a small pack of coffee, half a dozen lemon like citrus fruit, a box of cup mineral water, rice and a box of biscuits.

They must have just received their paycheck for the week. Away from family and friends, they were making the best of the situation as they got the basic necessities to prepare for the celebrations. Funds are low yet they seemed contented with their purchase. I guess they were going to meet up together at their makeshift barracks or overcrowded rented homes to celebrate with their family away from home – other foreign workers in the same predicament.

That morning a bike laden with a basket full of live chicken had driven into the construction area just in front of my office. That was the last thing you would expect to see but if you thought about it, it isn’t really as odd as it seems. Most workers live at their working areas in makeshift barracks. Every evening I’d find them sitting by the side of the dimly lit street waiting to break their fast or silently munching into their packed food.

Most of them come from middle class families, some even have degrees to boost. Unfortunately the economic instability in their countries leave them with no choice but to leave their families and live meager lives as laborers, maids and waiters to support their families. Their degrees remain worthless papers as the economic situation in their countries. The irrelevance of their degree have turned their qualification into nothing but an initial behind their names.

We are in many ways lucky. We live in a nation that has a somewhat balanced economic and a stable political scene. At times the market does tremble and memories of the economic downfall resurface but even then most of us managed to enter the job market and today hold successful jobs. Very few of us realize the importance of a stable economy and political scene. Any ripple in the thin glass surface and we could be in the same shoes of foreigners that we often shun. I’m no saint to claim I’m not wary of them but I do try to remain as humane as possible with the few I meet on a daily basis.

Little do we realize that as much as they need the money, we need them as we lack the labour force to support our industries. The only thing that separates most of us with them is the profile of our countries. If situations were reversed, where do you think the bulk of us will land?

I watched them walk away as I contemplated their situation.

I will always remain thankful for what we have. Lets hope it remains for our lives to go on as it is.


VJ said...

do you really think our govt is fair to us?

not saying that I'm not thankful, but we deserve to live a better life!!!

San said...

Agree with VJ. But i gotta admit, we are indeed lucky to live in Malaysia. There's still room for improvent, tho. Dont u think?

Vijay Kandasamy said...

hmmm we yet to complain.. i dun think so.. we can survive in other countries as much as we enjoy live in Malaysia. The freedom is totally different..:) And i feel that there is some 3rd party source simply create false statement and issues to break the unity between races. No offence.. just a personal point of view..:)

Selamat Hari Raya

simon said...

i've worked a long time in the construction industry, and it's pretty sad.

the workers at my site weren't paid by their employers (the contractor) for 3 months. i guess it was a pretty bleak raya for them too. and they had families and kids in the kongsi.

visithra said...

Not sure why I never replied comments before

Vj : life is never fair .period. no matter where you live. Everyone deserves a better life – you may just need to work harder

San : there’s always room for improvement no matter where you live – try reading blogs of msians who live in European countries – n then see how the grass is always greener on the other side.

Vk : there are pros and cons in making noise – ppl believe change will happen – what I see is change did happen – but in the form of power – but did we really benefit from it?

Simon : yeah I know – its sad isn’t it – how ppl decide to take other peoples lives for granted – and we the employed cant do much either – all I ask is for ppl to be less critical on them