Saturday, November 10, 2007

Who’s to blame for Asia’s highest income disparity? (malaysiakini)

Who’s to blame for Asia’s highest income disparity?
Charles Hector
Aug 27, 07 4:15pm

Since Malaya’s ‘independence’ from British rule on Aug 31, 1957, the control of the government has been in the hands of the Barisan Nasional. All prime ministers of Malaysia have been from Umno. Hence Umno, MCA, MIC, in short the BN government, is responsible for the manner in which our nation has developed economically, socially and politically.

The BN government has failed the Malaysian people when it was disclosed in the United Nations Human Development Report for 2004 that Malaysia is now embarrassingly one of the countries with the highest income disparity between the rich and the poor in Asia.

Malaysia has the largest gap where the top 10 percent is 22.1 times richer than the poorest 10 percent. Malaysia’s income gap is higher than Philippines (16.5), Thailand (13.4), Indonesia (7.8) and Vietnam (8.4). The richest 10 percent in Malaysia control 38.4 percent of the country’s economic income as compared to the poorest 10 percent controlling 1.7 percent.

Who is to be blamed for this state of affairs? It has to be the BN government and nobody else. Over the years, BN has embarked on an odd development strategy that has resulted in the rich becoming richer and the poor getting poorer. Interestingly, we have today a prime minister with a son and a son-in-law who definitely cannot be said to be poor and with the capacity of possibly plucking millions of ringgit when needed.

Taking a look at the political leaders in the BN, we cannot but wonder whether all of them are in that elite group of the 10% of Malaysians that control about 38% of the country’s wealth.

The New Economic Policy’s (NEP) primary objective for the eradication of poverty surely would not have been achieved. We really have to wonder as to the actual number of persons and families that are really poor even though the government says that poverty is being eradicated in Malaysia .

The Malaysian government has been playing smart by always talking about the big picture – the nation’s economy and not the individual or the individual’s family economy. The government’s resistance to the call for a minimum wage is just another indicator of a government not so bothered with the welfare of individual Malaysians.

Traveling along the many non-privatised highways, we see that the Malaysian roads have not been upgraded and look like they were 20 to 30 years ago. We also recall that in late 2005, the Education Minister had revealed that out of the 4,036 national schools, 794 were without electricity, and another 1,555 without toilet facilities. For this, there can be no other government to blame other than the BN government.

What about police stations and fire stations? Have there really been an increase in numbers over the years? But oh yes, this would not be a priority with a government preoccupied with the economy.

Then, we must note that the number of judges in the country is still too low compared with other Commonwealth nations. The Malaysian ratio is 2.4 judges to a million people - a far cry from the ratio in India (10.5), Australia (57.1), Britain (50.1) and Canada (75). Of course, courts, judges and justice are not a priority for a government bent on making some individuals richer.

Most likely nothing much will change. In fact, many would just go the ballot box and vote for BN again. In the last general elections, it was ‘give the new prime minister a chance’. What will it be now? Give him another chance?

The biggest problem with Malaysians has been self-centeredness and fear. Fear of being persecuted if it is known that they voted for the opposition. To this, I would say think about the future of your children and their children (or just other Malaysians) and bravely express your dissatisfaction with the BN government with your vote in the coming election.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is not the fear of prosecution. However it is the fear whether the alternative government would actually be better than the present government. Better the devil you know rather than the devil you do not know perhaps. After all, most people would not want the Islamic Party to come into power. They have horrendous thoughts on the economy while the other party would be Keadilan whom existence merely to cater to Anwar Ibrahim's well being.

DAP - what Malay in the right mind would vote for them? They are more well known among the Malays as the anti Malay party. Should the Malays give the key to destroy themselves to these ppl. The Malays might as well commited suicide.

Malaysia need a new political party not based on race but also not afraid to tackle the racial issue. At the same time this party need to cater to the Malay's fear of losing out.