The cost of two jobs: The death of a special needs child

by Mariam Mokhtar

PASSING BY: Do you remember the sad tale of Muhammad Firdaus Dullah, the 15-year old with cerebral palsy, who was neglected by his mother, Lolanopita Sadi, a 40-year-old single mother originally from Tawau, Sabah?

To make ends meet, she worked two consecutive shifts, at a catering company, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, from 8am to 4pm, and from 4pm to midnight.

Last week, Ahmad Maslan the Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister, had the temerity to tell Malaysians, that if they wanted to cope with the rising cost of living, they could “make an honest living” with two or more jobs.

He tweeted, “I have three jobs. MP, deputy minister, and Umno information chief. Many in Malaysia are working two jobs.”

We wonder what Ahmad Maslan would have said about Muhammad Firdaus’ case. Immigration officers, on patrol looking for illegal workers, in Nilai, in Negri Sembilan, stumbled upon the emaciated, teenager, in a flat in Taman Semarak.

He had been left to fend for himself, because his mother was too busy trying to make ends meet. His parents were estranged.

The immigration officials, found him in a filthy state, wearing just a torn T-shirt, surrounded by litter, human filth, and empty styrofoam packages.

Lolanopita claimed that having two jobs, tired her out, and left her with little time to care for her son. She did not have the funds to put him in a home. She also claimed that she had no idea how to get help from the Welfare Department.

The Malay daily reported that she said, “It’s not that I don’t love him, but I think that’s the best option for his future. Not only am I financially strapped, but I also don’t have enough time, because my working hours are not fixed.”

She claimed that she would prepare some food for her son, before leaving for work but that her son would scatter the food everywhere. She also said, “It’s dry food and because I can’t afford to buy diapers, he defecates everywhere.

“When I come back home from work, I’m too exhausted, to clean the room. It happened that yesterday, (the day he was discovered by immigration officials), there was no water at home, so I couldn’t clean it.”

Why was Muhammad Firdaus’ father completely out of the picture? Why did she not secure some financial help, via the syariah court, from her former husband?

Do Ahmad Maslan and his peers, know that there are many families like Lolanopita’s, who are finding it impossible to cope? This was a woman who had no quality of life, no work-life-balance, and no time to enquire about social services. The community leader, her local doctor, and the village headman all appeared unable, or unwilling to offer advice.

Muhammad Firdaus died last October, a year after being rescued. He was on the mend. Lolanopita may have failed her son, but society had also failed both of them.

Having two or more jobs is not the answer. – The Ant Daily

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