Fri, 25 Feb 2000

People's money

I am concerned to hear the news about the planned increase of salaries of the government officials, the ministers, the President and the Vice President. Are they not heroes of reform? Don't they wish to enhance the people's living standard, uphold justice and human rights, when they get the ruling position? Don't they wish to build and lead the nation towards a better and intelligent future? Do they still have the right to be called patriotic reformists?

In the past they cried: Crush corruptors, uphold justice and protect little people, and so on. I do not mean that they should not be allowed to enjoy higher wages. But why not give priority to improve the income of the low-salaried employees within the next two years? Only after the little people are satisfied with their life condition can the higher officials consider their own rights.

The ordinary people do not only need improvement of their situation in terms of money but no less important is protection against arbitrary actions of their bosses -- either in private companies, foreign firms or in the families. They really need the government protection nowadays for their rights are being abused. The Manpower Minister should be willing to survey the real situation in the field to find out the first hand information of the less fortunate people. If necessary, the government should issue an instruction to the private companies to the effect that they should not necessarily use the regional minimum wage regulation as base of the employees' pay, simply because it is not comparable to the huge profit they make.

The regional minimum wage should actually be raised by 100 to 200 percent. How can one expect one to live a decent life with an income ranging from Rp 230,000 to Rp 280,000 a month? How can you make ends meet from such a meager income?

The government should be held responsible for the increasing number of the unemployed and should open new employment opportunities before things go from bad to worse, if criminality is to be eradicated. If only the government has the political will, things will get going. A lot of opportunities are open which can be used to upgrade the life of the people.