Please Don’t Forget Our Rural Teachers For #HariGuruMcD

I got my voucher last Friday! 😍😋
I sent this to McD:

Dear McDonald’s Malaysia,

My name is Jarod Yong and I am an English teacher at a government school in Sarawak.

Firstly, on behalf of all government school teachers, I’d like to thank you for remembering & appreciating all of us this year with the #HariGuruMcD campaign & the much appreciated complimentary meal voucher. You have put in the effort to have more than 400k vouchers printed, packed into boxes according to the respective PPDs, & sent to the farthest corners of Malaysia, not to mention the bureaucratic hula hoops you’ve had to jump through to get this campaign approved & endorsed by our Ministry of Education. We appreciate this massive undertaking &, personally, I can’t wait to have my first McD meal in 4 years. The anticipation has brought a smile to my face, even right now.

I am writing in to request a 1-month extension form the expiry date of the complimentary meal vouchers. Currently, teachers have only 5 days to redeem the vouchers, as they are only valid on 16-20 May 2019. This doesn’t pose a problem for teachers serving in urban areas and “Luar Bandar” schools, as the nearest McD would be a drive away. However, teachers who serve in “Pedalaman” schools might not even receive the vouchers in time, let alone find the time to travel all the way to the nearest city for a McD meal. I know that this is of concern to you, because you have shown your sincerity in the way you’ve run your campaign & I’m hoping that you’ll help ensure that no “Cikgu” is left out in the cold.

I know it’s hard for people who have lived all their lives in the city to imagine the life of a “Pedalaman” school teacher. I was once in your shoes. Do indulge me as I explain why the extension is necessary. I will use the situation in Sarawak as an example, because it is something that I have experienced first-hand. Even so, there are thousands of teachers in Sabah & Peninsula Malaysia who are in similar situations.

In urban Peninsula Malaysia, when people say “Ulu”, they mean “Luar Bandar”. A place that takes you hours to get to via a highway in a car. In order for a government school to be designated a “Pedalaman” school, there are hardships involved with getting to the school that go way beyond sitting for long hours in an air-conditioned sedan.

What a longboat looks like when it's full of teachers & students heading back into the interiors.
I taught at a “Pedalaman 1” school. Getting to the nearest McD, in Sibu, from my school involved a 2-hour express boat ride & a 1-hour open-top longboat ride. Depending on the time of day, the transit in between the two boat rides can also take a few hours. Therefore, my colleagues & I only make our way to Sibu about once a month. Sure, if I wanted to, I could probably make that once a month coincide with the validity period of the vouchers.

However, there are still plenty of teachers at “Pedalaman 2” & “Pedalaman 3” schools, who experience x2 & x3 more logistical hardship. Imagine sitting under the scorching sun for 6 hours in an open-top boat & having to get out every once in a while to drag your boat through shallow waters. I know “Pedalaman 3” teachers who only leave their schools once a month to go to the nearest town for supplies. Cities were reserved for long-weekends or semester breaks. We can’t find McDs in Sarawakian towns.

In Sarawak, there are 12 McDs: 8 in Kuching, 1 in Sibu, 1 in Bintulu, & 2 in Miri. The 4 cities mentioned here are generally among our biggest. Let me put this into perspective for someone from Peninsula Malaysia. Sarawak is geographically 64% of Peninsula Malaysia, albeit extremely lesser developed. Essentially, the situation is like asking a teacher in Kelantan to go to Penang for their McD meals. Additionally, imagine asking a teacher working with the Orang Asli in “Pedalaman 3” Perak to go all the way to Selangor for theirs.

Therefore, I hope that you will grant us a 1-month extension on the deadline. We have a 2-week semester break coming up at the end of May, which should provide all government school teachers in Malaysia with enough time to fully appreciate your generous gesture. Thank you for your kind consideration. May your vouchers be the source of a heartfelt #TerimaKasihCikgu, rather than a bitter reminder of one’s dire circumstances.

Initially, I wanted to email this directly to McD but the contact page on their website looked like it was meant as an avenue for people to complain about specific outlets. There was no way to send a message to corporate.
Nonetheless, I submitted the feedback today to their Kuching outlet, hoping that they'll forward it to corporate.
Last Friday, I presented my concerns to a personal contact inside the organization.
They are coming up with a solution & I'm confident they will not disappoint us.
Good news! On Sunday evening, I got an assurance from a director that they're looking into the matter!

===FINAL UPDATE: 2pm, 16 May 2019===

I just got off a long phone call with a PR director & I have the final decision on my appeal for an extended deadline.

First, let me put things into perspective. Here's what McD has done for us this year alone:
- Anugerah Guru Inspirasi: which publicly raises the profile of teachers & gives us 25 role models to emulate;
- Teachers’ Day parties in April at all 278 McDonald’s restaurants;
- 9 motivational seminars by Dato’ Dr Hj Mohd Fadzilah Kamsah organized nationwide, impacting more than 4,500 teachers; and
- a free meal voucher for all 420,000+ teachers in Malaysia, worth approximately RM4.5 million.

I don't think that there's ever been any other organization doing even half of this for all of us.

You probably guessed it by now; The current redemption deadlines remains; There will be no extension. However, I was assured that this is something they would take note of for future programs.

Honestly, they've attempted to reach each & every one of us, urban & rural. At such a scale, no program would be perfect. Heck, it's a common complaint that not even KPM, in all it's might, can get a letter to us on time!

Therefore, rural teachers, please take advantage of this long Wesak Day weekend & make your way to your nearest McD to redeem your vouchers. There's a 2 for 1 promo on the McD app that you can take advantage of to make it worthwhile.

Personally, I feel like I have failed you. I'm a little person with very little power/authority standing up to a major global conglomerate. Therefore, I am giving away my voucher in solidarity with my colleagues who are not able to redeem their free meals. I will be paying full price for my meal.

It has been my pleasure to speak up on your behalf! Happy Teachers' Day!

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