Has the Malaysian government been consistent in defining and prioritizing developmental issues, such as eradicating poverty and homelessness?
Even roping the NGOs into the national strategy, we still see no improvements despite the propaganda and the boast of accountability and accessibility. The reality is we are blind to the poverty in the cities, the small towns, the rural indigenous villages and the plantations.
Poverty-alleviation programmes have been featured prominently in the national budget, splashed across the mainstream media like some-sensationalized news, but we still see and experience the hunger, homelessness and destitute of the marginalized community. Maybe the problem is not the government and NGOs to bear alone, but the Malaysian society as a whole. The apathy is disgusting as we use the misery of disadvantaged people for our corporate social responsibility campaigns, such as a photo-shoot opportunity for charity. Alas, the corporations are also dabbling in the spiral of community responsibility. Pray tell what happened to ‘rights-based approaches’ in solving the concerns of the poor and defenseless?
Malaysia’s rapid economical growth and selected discrimination policies has benefited a few and vastly contributed to the economic gap. While Malaysia was able to send a Malaysian to space, purchase submarines, and extravagantly finance monumental “development” projects, the indigenous people, the refugees, the out-of-school young people are forced to live in a barbaric culture of stigma and prejudice. A prevalent culture of charity and pity has long ago replaced the empowered society. What we see now is a society embracing greed, power and conformity to the establishment.
The Malaysian experience suggest that poverty can be reduced by increasing the productivity of the poor. Well, to put it bluntly, its basically mobilizing the community into a vicious cycle of economic slavery. While the poor work hard to feed their families, the cost of living increases due to the global recession and courtesy of the government’s incredible purchasing addiction. How can Malaysia’s two multi-billion Ringgit submarines help homeless people? And why is it that despite the billions allocated in poverty-reduction programmes and education initiatives, that hardcore poverty still exists in this country?
Malaysia has become a state of ignorant and arrogant bullies. We bully those weaker than us. We bully the indigenous people “Orang Asal”, people living with HIV, sex workers, drug users, disabled people, school dropouts, pregnant young women, refugees from the region, some religious minorities, LGBTs, and sadly the list goes on… And it is bizarre how many United Nations country offices in this country have kept their diplomatic mouths shut when the issues of human rights and poverty has been revealed. A partnership of silence? Malaysia is now in the cesspool of apathy. Congratulations. We placed the country here.