Berhenti Isap jerrr...


Written on 9/19/2004 01:23:00 am by sikapitan

The recently tabled ‘bajet’ (god please don’t tell me we’ve become lazy enough NOT to use the more proper ‘belanjawan’) caused an emotional outpouring never seen before (with the exception of post-match reactions) from grown men who looked solemn for the rest of the week. The government has decided to raise the tax on cigarettes, causing millions of legal and illegal purchasers to silently curse. As a non-smoker, I was stuck with listening to their grievance, because quite frankly, 2/3 of the people I hang out with at school smoke. I sometimes pity these addicted souls who first started on the path of doom based on peer pressure and misguided heroism. They are invariably hooked on the stick, despite knowing that even if it doesn’t cause them death, it’ll probably eat up a sizeable chunk of their money. I personally have nothing against smokers. Why must we differentiate smokers from people who wear tight tee-shirts or go clubbing? They and all of us in fact, are a victim of crass marketing and societal definition of what’s cool and what’s not. It is pre-set in history, by our predecessors. We cannot run away from it, and yet we have the individual power to change. It takes time.

But let’s talk about the ‘bajet’. I found out that the government spent at least RM9 billion in petrol subsidies. If you must know, Malaysia has one of the lowest rates for petrol and cigarettes in the world today. Surprisingly, despite our perceived idea that the government is out screwing us all, they are actually helping us everyday, in a big way that invariably would lead to the destruction of our own people. Instead of going to education and infrastructure, the government is spending billions on the very thing that’ll destroy the planet and its people. Let’s forget the moral high-ground of preserving the environment. I sincerely believe that the subsidy has slowed down the progress of our public transportation system. Because the petrol price here is still affordable, personal transportation is the norm. We not only purchase motor-vehicles as a means of transport but also as a symbol of status. If we can get to work all by ourselves, in our own time and with our own entertainment, why struggle with buses? I am guilty of this; as I believe do most of us. The government introduced the subsidy as a means of spurring economic growth, but Malaysians have now grown accustomed to the price that every increase will lead to dissatisfaction. The government is in a conundrum. They are actually spending billions of OUR money just to keep us happy. We couldn’t care less that our school-children are worse off in English than before, or that our government hospital struggles to cope with the number of patients, but when the price of petrol increases 2 cents everyone starts crying out loud.

So the government, in trying to achieve some sort of balance, decided to impose a higher tax on ‘vice’ products such as cigarettes and alcohol (dload the song by Oasis-it’s freaking wicked). Sooner or later, with the increase in global petrol prices, our government cannot sustain subsidizing our petrol. I sincerely suggest that the government continuously raise the tax on cigarettes and alcohol to compensate for the subsidy. I know my mates would be mad, but which one do they prefer? To be able to fill up your petrol tank or fill up your lungs with deadly particles? Go figure.
Belaja la ngok!
The Finals is coming soon for UiTM students. I’m not talking about some football match, but it’s time for our final semester examinations. It’s funny how people react in this situation. They are those, like me, who would rather do anything else than to open up his books. And people like me will then suddenly realize, much too late most of the time, that the exams starts in two days time and they haven’t started anything. Cue the sudden bout of paranoia and inability to control our temper. It has happened so many times over so many examinations that it’s impossible for us not to realize what we’ve done wrong. And yet, we steadfastly refuse to give up our ways. Personally, I find it thrilling to be cramming for the finals. I don’t like it, but its after-effect is surely the cheapest way to get high.

Then there are those who have studied throughout the semester, whose excellence is virtually written on their foreheads. They might not be popular, they might not be cool but they sure as hell don’t have high-blood pressure like the other group. They are nicer, calmer, more in tune with their emotions. Generally these groups are more loving, and ooze honesty and brilliance. But just like I love watching them, and maybe emulate them, I just can’t bring myself to be like them. They remind me of why I like studying last-minute in the first place. There’s something wicked, something romantic, about being spontaneous, no?

It’s going to get crazy, so bear with me these coming weeks. I assure you, when it’s all over, victory will taste so much sweeter.

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